COVID-19 update: Iraq records 10 deaths and 429 new cases of coronavirus
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – On Monday, the Iraqi Ministry of Health announced 429 new infections of COVID-19 and 10 deaths over the past 24 hours.
The ministry statement said that Iraqi health teams are continuing field tests and monitoring in Baghdad and other provinces. The ministry explained that, over the past 24 hours, it has conducted 10,495 tests for Iraqis suspected of carrying the virus. The statement also urged people to cooperate and follow government instructions to prevent the further spread of the disease.
The World Health Organization (WHO) urged all Iraqis to follow preventive measures, as issued by health authorities, to contain the spread of the virus, as infection rates have begun rising again. WHO stressed that re-instituting the full curfew for another week was a necessary measure to combat the pandemic.
The Iraqi government first imposed a curfew on March 17, before easing restrictions a month later, on April 21, as it allowed residents to move freely during the day. However, it re-imposed a total curfew for a week, during the Eid al-Fitr holiday (May 23 and 24), which marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.
Baghdad has extended the curfew until next Sunday, June 6, after corona infections began to rise anew.
Second wave in Iran
The rise in Iraqi cases follows the emergence of a second wave of the coronavirus in neighboring Iran—the original epicenter of the disease in the Middle East. On Monday, Tehran reported 2,979 new cases, the highest number since April 1.
“Iran’s new infections total has been rising for nearly two weeks, but now the pace is accelerating leading the Iranian authorities to acknowledge a second wave is underway,” The Guardian reported on Monday.
Like Iraq as a whole, the Kurdistan Region has been affected by the situation in Iran. On Sunday, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) reported 104 new cases of the coronavirus. Of those cases, the overwhelming bulk of them—102—were in Sulaimani province, which borders Iran. Indeed, of those 102 cases, 51 were in Penjwin, a short drive from the Iranian border.
Another case was found in an individual who had recently returned from Baghdad.
The KRG has responded to this situation, by announcing a complete lockdown for six days, starting on Monday.
According to the Iraqi Health Ministry, there have been a total of 6,868 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the country, including 215 deaths and 3,275 individuals who have recovered from the disease.
There are general concerns in Iraq regarding the increasing rate of new infections, which could have a severe, negative impact on the country’s health system, given its limited health infrastructure.
(Additional reporting by Khrush Najari)
Editing by Laurie Mylroie