COVID-19: Iraq doubles daily infection rate with 299 new cases, 15 in Kurdistan

On Saturday, the Iraqi health ministry announced a record-breaking figure of 299 new coronavirus cases and five fatalities in the previous 24 hours as its counterpart in the autonomous Kurdistan Region announced 15 new cases in its daily update report on the highly-infectious disease.

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – On Saturday, the Iraqi health officials in Baghdad announced a record-breaking figure of 299 new coronavirus cases and five fatalities in the previous 24 hours as their counterpart in the autonomous Kurdistan Region announced 15 new cases in its daily update report on the highly-infectious disease.  

According to the Iraqi Ministry of Health, 174 of the new infections were found in Baghdad province, six each in Basra and Wasit, five in Muthanna, three in Diyala and Karbala, and one in both Salahuddin and Najaf. All five COVID-19-related deaths were in the capital city of Baghdad.

The numbers represent all new cases throughout the nation with the exception of the Kurdistan Region, which has its own health ministry and conducts tests separately.

This year Iraq marks Eid al-Fitr, which comes at the end of the holy month of Ramadan, amid the global pandemic and its dire economic consequences, compounded by security challenges as the so-called Islamic State intensifies its attacks on security forces and civilians. Both the federal and the regional government have imposed separate lockdowns throughout the country for the holiday, traditionally celebrated with large groups of family and friends, to curb the spread of the virus.

Read More: COVID-19 Updates: Iraq announces Eid curfew amid 57 new cases, 10 in Kurdistan

The Kurdistan Region's health ministry said that, out of a total of new 791 coronavirus tests given to individuals, 15 of them returned positive on Saturday. The province of Sulaimani recorded eight, Duhok had, and the regional capital of Erbil only had just one. Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) health workers have conducted 66,265 coronavirus examinations since the disease first emerged, the ministry noted in a statement.

The tally of COVID-19 cases in the Kurdistan Region now total 476, with five deaths and 403 having recovered. The national total, including the Kurdistan Region, is 4,272 cases and 152 fatalities.  

An extension of first wave

On Saturday, Kurdistan Region Heath Minister Saman Barzinji announced in a press conference that the latest uptick in COVID-19 cases is “an extension of the first wave” as he addressed the region.

“What is happening is the continuation and extension of the disease,” he added, citing the World Health Organization's (WHO) latest report received by his ministry. “Gratefully, the current situation has not caused a major outbreak that would be out of our control.” 

He went on to explain that the latest WHO indicators of the coronavirus in the Kurdistan Region, 92 percent came after known exposures to others confirmed to have contracted the disease previously and only eight percent were due to unknown sources.

COVID-19 has infected over 5.3 million people worldwide and killed more than 342,000, according to 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