Iraq’s Nineveh eases curfew amid apparent absence of COVID-19 cases
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Authorities in the northern Iraqi province of Nineveh announced on Wednesday that the local administration is now relaxing its coronavirus curfew measures as all patients known to have contracted the disease in the provincial capital of Mosul, as well as all other cities and towns, have reportedly recovered with no new cases confirmed in recent days.
The statement came from Nineveh governor Najim al-Jabouri during a press briefing he led in downtown Mosul after meeting with the provincial Combatting Coronavirus Crisis Cell, as reported by local Shafaaq media outlet.
The disease, formally known as COVID-19, has infected 1,434 people across Iraq, including the Kurdistan Region, according to government-provided data. Baghdad has said that 79 patients have passed away because of the virus, and 812 have recovered.
Health authorities in Nineveh province have only confirmed five cases, all of which have recovered.
Due to Iraq’s limited testing capability and the existence of asymptomatic cases, as well as Nineveh's large populations of displaced families who often live in crowded camps or informal settlements with minimal services and substandard medical resources, actual numbers could be far higher.
In early April, Reuters reported that Baghdad was intentionally and significantly underreporting its number of infections, a charge the government aggressively denied.
During Wednesday's press conference, Governor Jabouri stated that Nineveh’s anti-coronavirus body was reducing restrictions on movement after April 18 “to relieve the burden of citizens as the month of Ramadan approaches.”
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, during which worshippers observe 29–31 days of fasting and prayers to commemorate when Muslims believe the prophet Mohammed received his divine revelations. It is set to begin on the evening of April 23 and will end on the same day of the following month.
Jabouri added that the crisis cell has set up a mechanism to allow entry to those wishing to enter Nineveh and that the body had also agreed to facilitate the movement of farmers to access their crops as the harvesting season approaches.
Editing by John J. Catherine