Kurdistan Region cancels Friday prayers after Iraq's first coronavirus death
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – On Wednesday, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) added the cancellation of weekly Friday prayers to its growing list of precautionary measures aimed at combating the recent spread of the coronavirus in the Kurdistan Region.
After an emergency meeting to discuss and enact such decisions, regional Prime Minister Masrour Barzani stressed that his government “will take every step necessary” to safeguard the people and national security of the Kurdistan Region.
“As it is every religion’s main purpose to protect the people’s lives and well being, after suspending schools and universities, the KRG has decided to cancel religious ceremonial gatherings until further notice at all of the Kurdistan Region's mosques, churches, and temples, including Friday prayer,” read a statement.
The decision came in light of six cases of coronavirus registered this week in Sulaimani province.
Earlier on Wednesday, a 70-year-old imam who had been infected was reported to have died, marking the first likely coronavirus death in Kurdistan Region. As with many of the fatalities worldwide, he is believed to have died from the effects the virus had on an already deteriorated health condition caused by pre-existing ailments.
Iraq’s health ministry confirmed three new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday bringing the total known cases in the country to 35. Iran is the Middle Eastern nation primarily affected and where all infections in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region are thought to have originated.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the outbreak an international health emergency. COVID-19, as it is officially called, has spread to over 80 countries, including China – where it originated – the United States, Italy, the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Russia, Singapore, and India.
According to the most recent WHO figures, there are over 95,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus all around the world, over 80,000 of which are in mainland China. So far, over 3,250 people have died the virus with nearly 51,500 more recovering.
Wednesday's KRG statement continued, “The importance of continuing to provide medical needs to sustain quarantine units, both in the hospitals and border checkpoints connecting to Iran and other cities in Iraq,” without “affecting the movement of trade.”
“In order to reduce losses incurred by owners of business as a result of the preventive measures against the coronavirus, the [KRG's] Council of Ministers has instructed the related ministers to implement legal instructions for reviewing taxes and wages for certain places and businesses,” to issue necessary regulation and establish “a mechanism in which financial losses are reduced.”
Finally, it instructed, “all relevant authorities in the KRG to implement all necessary health instructions in all refugee and IDP camps, in coordination with the relevant international organizations.”
Editing by John J. Catherine