WHO warns Iraqi protesters of second wave of COVID-19 as Baghdad announces 95 new cases

On Tuesday, a member of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Iraq warned members of a mass protest movement that has been active since October and has caused the resignation of the former prime minister that gathering in large numbers increases the chances of a second major wave of COVID-19 outbreaks in the embattled nation.

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – On Tuesday, a member of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Iraq warned members of a mass protest movement that has been active since October and has caused the resignation of the former prime minister that assembling in large crowds increases the chances of a second major wave of COVID-19 outbreaks in the embattled nation. 

The official, Adnan Nawar, said in a statement that "all human gatherings at this phase constitute a danger to the citizens, and to Iraqi society in general, especially with the increasing number of infections of the coronavirus in most Iraqi cities."

"This gathering poses a real danger to yourself and to Iraqi society," warning them of the consequences of their "failure to abide by the preventive measures and regulations," continued his message, addressed specifically to those in the popular movement that decries the nation's low standard of living, chronically poor public services, and institutional corruption. 

Demonstrators took to the streets in some central and southern cities during the past two days after the parliament voted in the new government of Mustafa al-Kadhimi just as Iraqi authorities have begun to ease imposed restriction measures of COVID-19 following the notable decrease in new cases of the highly-contagious disease.

Infections had declined significantly two weeks ago to less than 50 cases per day but then rose again last week, raising fears of a second wave of outbreaks throughout the country.  

Read More: COVID-19 Updates: Iraq reports 51 new cases, as KRG, again, says no new infections

On Tuesday evening, the Iraqi Ministry of Health and environment announced 95 new cases of coronavirus and two new deaths in the previous 24 hours.

The statement pointed out that the total number of infections reached 2,913, including 112 fatalities and 1,903 recoveries. 898 of active cases in Iraq. On the same night, the Kurdistan Region’s health ministry announced that no new cases had been confirmed for eight days in a row.

In late April, the main WHO office in Iraq applauded the success of the KRG's efforts to combat the disease. "I want to congratulate the Kurdistan Region on their achievement in fighting the coronavirus," said an official from the organization. "The rate of COVID-19 infections and fatalities in the region is very low compared to other Iraqi governorates."

Read More: WHO congratulates Kurdistan Region on coronavirus response

The coronavirus has infected over 4.2 million people worldwide and killed nearly 300,000, 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