Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 24 October 2020

CORONAVIRUS

Coronavirus: warnings mount in Iraq of unmanageable onslaught

Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi says government has fighting chance to avoid what officials call catastrophe

Healthcare workers on a break in Sadr City, Baghdad, on May 21, 2020. Reuters
Healthcare workers on a break in Sadr City, Baghdad, on May 21, 2020. Reuters

A member of a special parliamentary committee to counter the coronavirus in Iraq is predicting a “catastrophe”, as warnings mount over lack of compliance with containment measures.

But Mustafa Al Kadhimi, the Iraqi Prime Minister, struck a cautiously optimistic note on Sunday, saying Iraq could still avoid complete loss of control in the fight against the pandemic.

Scepticism of official data on the spread of coronavirus is widespread in Iraq.

The Health Ministry on Sunday announced the biggest single daily jump in cases to 308, for a total of 4,200 infections.

Healthcare workers gather in a street during testing for the coronavirus in Sadr City district of Baghdad, Iraq May 21, 2020. Reuters
Healthcare workers gather in a street during testing for the coronavirus in Sadr City district of Baghdad, Iraq May 21, 2020. Reuters

Crisis Cell member Ali Al Lami said that Iraq “will be subjected to a big catastrophe".

The Iraqi Parliament formed the 24-member Crisis Cell in March to monitor government strategy against the coronavirus and propose solutions to the executive branch.

“A high number of cases could be recorded because of lack of adherence to health ministry measures and to the curfews,” Mr Al Lami said.

The authorities should take “strict action against the violators”, he said.

Mr Al Lami said an open-ended curfew across the country should be imposed, beyond the curfew for Eid Al Fitr focusing on Baghdad.

Coronavirus testing in Sadr City, Baghdad, on 21, 2020. Reuters
Coronavirus testing in Sadr City, Baghdad, on 21, 2020. Reuters

Last week, Baghdad Governor Jaber Al Ata said the pandemic was spreading rapidly in the capital.

Mr Al Ata expected that Baghdad hospitals would soon be unable to cope because the public was not adhering to the rules.

Mr Al Kadhimi visited Baghdad’s main hospital on Sunday.

He said Iraq “has the chance of success in bypassing the health crisis despite the economic challenges”.

“The government is working under difficult and overwhelming economic conditions,” Mr Al Kadhimi said.

But he said he was still “confident of bypassing the coronavirus crisis".

Parliament confirmed Mr Al Kadhimi as prime minister two and half weeks ago, as the authorities said they discovered “contagion enclaves” in the capital.

Updated: May 26, 2020 01:53 AM

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