Coronavirus: Iraq records 160,000 new cases in third wave

Country's health care is suffering from years of conflict and sanctions

Iraq has dramatically increased its testing in recent weeks to more than 40,000 tests per day, almost double the testing capacity it had when daily coronavirus cases peaked in September.
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Iraq has recorded 160,000 new cases of coronavirus during the last few weeks as it enters its third wave of the pandemic, the country’s national news agency said.

Health authorities have been reporting at least 9,000 new daily cases of the virus, as the aggressive Delta variant continues to spread.

Only about 1.8 per cent of the population of 40 million people have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine and few people are adhering to health measures to stem the rise in cases.

“Iraq has officially entered the third wave of the pandemic as the number of critical cases in hospitals has reached more than 160,000. Of those, 750 are in intensive care,” Falah Al Ziyadi, a member of Iraq’s parliamentary Health and Environment Committee said.

“Young people are the most vulnerable,” Mr Al Ziyadi said.

The Iraqi official urged people to follow guidelines set by the Supreme Committee for Health and Safety to curb the spread of the virus.

He said “ministries and state institutions must also adhere to health guidelines”.

“Taking the full vaccination and abiding by the health recommendations will help combat the virus,” he said.

The committee called on all religious, cultural, civil society members to encourage the public to get vaccinated to reach “national immunity”.

The Health Ministry says the increase is causing severe pressure on hospitals, which are running out of beds to cater for severely sick patients.

Decades of conflict and international sanctions before 2003 have left the country's healthcare system on its knees. Hospitals suffer poor management, a lack of supplies, equipment and staff, and are now struggling to treat the sickest patients.

“The ministry has launched a national appeal to all Iraqis to co-operate with its strict guidelines and help its staff to stop the spreading of the virus,” said the ministry.

Updated: July 22, 2021, 6:46 PM