Source of some new COVID-19 infections in Kurdistan’s Sulaimani ‘unknown,’ health official warns

Health authorities on Sunday reported 35 new COVID-19 cases across the Kurdistan Region.
author_image Khrush Najari

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Kurdistan Region’s health ministry on Monday reported 35 new coronavirus cases, as a senior official suggested that the authorities do not know the origins of parts of the new infections in the autonomous region’s Sulaimani province.

A ministry statement said health workers had conducted 1,360 tests for the coronavirus disease, formally known as COVID-19. It added that the total number of examinations since the virus first reached the Kurdistan Region is now close to 78,000.

The 35 new cases included 28 individuals from Sulaimani province, six from Duhok province, and 12 from the Garmiyan administrative unit—among which was an individual who had just returned from the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.

Read More: Iraq records 10 deaths and 429 new cases of coronavirus

One of the Sulaimani cases was that of a person in the town of Penjwen, where health staff recorded over 50 new infections on Sunday. The entire province has the highest active cases the region has ever seen.

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has now reported 745 infections, including seven deaths and 420 recoveries. Out of the total, 245 active cases are in Sulaimani province.

As the authorities broke a daily record on Sunday, the KRG considered reinstituting a region-wide curfew in purported efforts to track and contain the disease effectively.

“As of now a six-day curfew is in place across the whole of the Kurdistan Region,” Prime Minister Masrour Barzani tweeted on Sunday. “This is for our safety due to a sharp rise in new cases of #coronavirus.”

“It is crucial that we abide by this curfew and follow public health guidelines at all times.”

Speaking to Kurdistan 24 late Sunday, Sulaimani health directorate spokesman Dr. Yad Naqishbandi expressed concerns about the latest uptick in the number of infections in the province.

“The situation is getting dangerous,” as “the source of some of the [new] infections [are] not clear,” Naqishbandi said. He added that he expected a sharp increase in the number of cases in Sulaimani, on top of the already relatively high number of infected individuals.

He affirmed that adhering to preventative measures and health safety guidelines was best to keep the disease at bay.

The highly contagious disease, first reported by Chinese authorities in late 2019 – that has since spread globally – has infected nearly 6.4 million people, killing just under 368,000 of them, 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 Karzan Sulaivany