Kurdistan reports 1 new coronavirus case; Iraq’s total climbs by 68
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraq’s known coronavirus cases have reached a total of 2,150 as health authorities from Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) combined reported a total of 68 new infections on Friday.
The Kurdistan Region's Health Ministry said that, in the past 24 hours, its laboratories have detected one case as positive out of 1,849 tests conducted. The infection was that of a 25-year-old woman who is the spouse of a man previously confirmed to have contracted the disease.
A ministry statement noted that the Kurdistan Region has so far carried out 42,234 coronavirus tests. The total number of confirmed cases in the autonomous region, as reported by the authorities, stands at 381. Five people have succumbed to the disease and 49 cases are listed as active.
From the Iraqi side, the federal health ministry confirmed 68 new cases, including one death in southern Muthanna province, adding that 35 of the infections were in Baghdad province, 17 in Basra, and seven each of Kirkuk and Maysan. The province of Najaf also had a single new case.
A federal ministry statement said Friday that its laboratories had conducted 95,399 coronavirus tests so far, roughly half the number of such examinations completed in the Kurdistan Region. The national total of infections has now climbed to 2,153, including 94 deaths and 1,414 reported recoveries.
Baghdad, Najaf, and Basra are the country’s most highly affected provinces, each having 284, 305, 281 cases, respectively, as per official government data.
Basra provincial authorities have had to extend a strict curfew to curb the spread of the disease, formally known as COVID-19. This is even as other parts of the country began easing restrictions on movement just as the Islamic month of Ramadan arrived late April.
In early April, Reuters reported that Baghdad was intentionally and significantly underreporting its number of infections, a charge the government aggressively denied. The World Health Organization (WHO) also dismissed the Reuters claim, but noted that “underreporting of COVID-19 cases is inevitable” due to various other factors.
Shortly after, the Iraqi communications authorities suspended the Reuters' operating license for the report but then reinstated it in late April, with the agency saying in an apparently conciliatory statement that it was “very pleased the suspension has been lifted and we can continue to report from Iraq.”
As the government partially lifts the lockdown measures, the WHO expressed “high concern” about “unprotected behavior” it said that some portion of citizens were engaging in. The entity called upon Iraqis “to adhere to WHO and @MOHealth_Iraq recommendations to avoid gatherings and maintain social distancing.”
The disease was first reported by Chinese authorities in late 2019 and has since spread in over 180 countries worldwide. To date, it has infected over 3.34 million people and killed nearly 239,000, 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