Mother and newborn separated by closed Iran-Iraqi border

Clutching her tablet in her lap, Rafiqa Ibrahim Radi tears up while watching videos of her newborn son.

It's been more than a month since the Iraqi mother-of-three last saw her baby boy, who is two hours away in a different country.

After a pregnancy with life-threatening complications, Seif was delivered by C-section in February, three months before his due date.

Inside his mother's womb, he had stopped growing.

Seif was born in Iran, where Rafiqa was told she and her baby would get better treatment.

After 20 days by his bedside in the neonatal intensive care unit, doctors advised her to go home while her son built up enough strength to be able to join her.

Then came coronavirus and the closure of the border between Iran and Iraq.

Rafiqa now has no idea when she'll see him next.

(SOUNDBITE) (Arabic), MOTHER, RAFIQA IBRAHIM RADI, SAYING:

"These 40 days feel like 40 years. I want to go, to cross the border, but it is forbidden, the border is closed. But I am hoping to cross."

Back home in Basra, Rafiqa, along with her husband and their two other sons, anxiously wait for news, while watching video diaries which doctors send them on a daily basis.

The good news that Seif is strong enough to go home finally comes.

But getting home is the hard part.

After two long weeks, Rafiqa's husband Ahmad makes some progress - Basra authorities grant their approval for the transfer.

Now it's a waiting game to see if Iran will oblige.

(SOUNDBITE) (Arabic), MOTHER, RAFIQA IBRAHIM RADI, SAYING:

"This virus does not only kill people; it also kills me from inside. Because of it, I am separated from my newborn who remains over there, in Ahvaz."

Coronavirus is not just causing grief in death.

It's causing agony for parents of newborn babies, too.