COVID-19: 287 new cases, 6 deaths in Iraq; Kurdistan extends travel ban
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – On Wednesday, the Iraqi Ministry of Health announced 6 deaths from the coronavirus and 287 new infections in the previous 24 hours, while its counterpart in the Kurdistan Region recorded 25 new cases, continuing an uptick for both.
Health officials pointed out that 71,414 individuals were tested for the highly-contagious disease in Iraq during the same period, while those the regional government conducted 948 tests.
The autonomous Kurdistan Region has its own health ministry and conducts tests separately. Daily testing results conducted by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) are typically announced later in the day than the federal government's figures and are then added to the next day's national tally.
According to the new nationwide data, the highest number of infections was recorded in Baghdad with 1,426 infections, roughly one-third of the total confirmed cases in Iraq, as well as 65 deaths. Iraq enacted a near-total lockdown mid-March, before partially lifting the curfew in April. This is thought to have been the likely cause of the current spike in new infections, prompting a commission in the parliament assigned with policy decisions regarding the pandemic to demand a second tightening of restrictive measures.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Kurdistan Region’s Ministry of Interior decided to extend the ban on travel between provinces of the region and with rest of Iraq until June 15.
“The Kurdistan Regional Government, since the coronavirus emerged, has taken all measures to prevent the spread of this pandemic such as closing borders, announcing a curfew, and placing citizens returning from abroad under quarantine,” read a ministry statement, which claimed that the recent increase of new infections in the is the result of a lack of the public's compliance with government health regulations and recommendations.
Erbil Governor Firsat Sofi warned in a press conference earlier on Wednesday, “The virus will reach epidemic proportions if people do not abide by instructions and preventive measures following the removal of the curfew and the opening of markets and mosques.”
On Tuesday, the Kurdistan Region's Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research announced the end of the school year for universities and colleges in the region as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Minister Aram Mohammed said in a speech that there would be no final exams and that students' grades from months before schools were vacated to stop the spread of the disease would count for the whole year.
According to the Iraqi health figures, the total number of national infections has reached 5,135 individuals, including 175 deaths and 2,904 recoveries. The tally in the Kurdistan Region is now 532 confirmed cases, five of them fatal and 407 where patients had recovered.
The coronavirus has infected nearly 5.7 million people worldwide and killed more than 355,000, 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