Unprecedented number of new COVID-19 cases in Iraq; Kurdistan's spike continues
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – On Tuesday, the federal Iraqi Ministry of Health announced it's highest numbers yet of new daily infections of the coronavirus since the beginning of its spread throughout the country, while the ministry's counterpart in the autonomous Kurdistan Region confirmed that its own current uptick is continuing as well.
According to a ministry statement, health officials in Baghdad announced that 134,643 individuals throughout provinces outside the Kurdistan Region had been tested in the previous 24 hours. Of that number, 519 of them came back positive, making a new total of 7,387 cases since the highly-contagious disease first crossed into Iraq's borders. The tally of national fatalities has now reached 235, while 3,508 patients are listed as having recovered.
Earlier on Tuesday, Interior Minister Othman al-Ghanmi announced the formation of a special committee under his supervision tasked with following up on preventive quarantine procedures so far enacted, pointing out that, given the rising numbers, such measures could continue for several months.
"The corona pandemic has started to spread and affect large numbers and there is no way to stand against it in the absence of a vaccine except for a curfew and other protective and precautionary means," added al-Ghanmi.
According to Kurdistan Region health officials' official number of the same day, there have been 85 new infections, making a new total of 830 cases in all including 14 deaths.
Of the total active cases in the region, 274 are in Sulaimani province, the site of a recent outbreak that a KRG official said on Monday was of unknown origin.
Read More: Source of some new COVID-19 infections in Kurdistan’s Sulaimani ‘unknown,’ health official warns
Kurdistan Region's own interior minister announced on Tuesday that local provincial governments will be given the authority to implement certain relaxations of current health regulations amid a new temporary region-wide curfew following a spike in new coronavirus cases.
Read More: Kurdistan to give provinces leeway on relaxing curfew; minister warns of new 'dangerous phase' of COVID-19
"All the governors and departments in the Kurdistan Region's provinces have requested authority to reassess the situation, make some adjustments, and mitigate the imposition of the curfew to facilitate citizen’s lives," said Minister Reber Ahmed during a press conference in Erbil.
He continued, "If we do not comply with health regulations, we will reach a dangerous phase and new infections, including deaths, will be very high," adding that the curfew will remain in place and the inter-provincial travel ban will continue.
On late Sunday, announced that the complete lockdown would last six days, following a record-breaking rate of new infections to curb the further spread of the highly contagous disease, formally known as COVID-19.
Read More: KRG to impose region-wide lockdown amid spiking COVID-19 cases: Interior Ministry
The highly contagious disease has infected nearly 6.4 million people worldwide and killed more than 378,000, according to government-reported data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The actual figures could be dramatically higher due to insufficient testing capabilities or underreporting.
Editing by John J. Catherine