Iraq coronavirus ‘catastrophe’ warning as Japan to lift state of emergency

Despite a small rise in cases, Japan took steps to begin lifting its state of emergency

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

Crisis Cell member Ali Al Lami told the official state news agency that Iraq “will be subjected to a big catastrophe”.

“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 Health Ministry announced on Sunday the biggest single jump in daily cases to 308, bringing the total confirmed infections to 4,200, but there is scepticism of the official data.

Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi struck a different tone on a visit to Baghdad’s main hospital on Sunday.

Official media quoted Mr Al Kadhimi as saying that Iraq “has the chance of success in bypassing the health crisis despite the economic challenges”.

In Saudi Arabia, the military confirmed its readiness for action despite the spread of the virus.

“I assure you, generous Sir, that amid the coronavirus pandemic the Saudi Armed Forces possess the highest degrees of military readiness,” Chief of Staff Fayyad Al Roueili told Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman on Sunday.

“We are always with you,” the commander told Prince Mohammed, thanking him for  “unlimited support” from the Saudi leadership.

Prince Mohammed called the top brass to relay to the military his Eid Al Fitr congratulations, indicating he could not be with troops because of the coronavirus.

Saudi streets remained silent as a five-day 24-hour curfew continued. The Saudi Heath Ministry said on Monday that it recorded 2235 new cases, 2148 recoveries, and nine deaths.

In Japan, despite a rise in cases, the government approved a plan to lift the state of emergency in Tokyo, its surrounding regions and the northern island of Hokkaido. The decision could mean the end of lockdown restrictions and pave the way for businesses to open up.

Tokyo reported 14 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, the highest since May 16, after just two cases were confirmed on Saturday. The total for the past seven days is 50, below the threshold of 70, or 0.5 people per 100,000, which the government has set as a requirement before lifting the emergency.

“The number of infections is decreasing day by day. That can be seen even in areas where the state of emergency is still in effect,” Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said. “The situation of the outbreak is improving, and the pressure on the medical system is being relieved.”

Japan has reported 16,550 cases in total, with 820 deaths from the virus.

Deaths from the virus in Sweden topped 4000 on Monday,  while the number of confirmed cases amounted to 33,843 up from 33,459.

Sweden has taken a soft-touch approach to fighting the virus, leaving most schools, shops and restaurants open and relying on voluntary measures focused on social distancing and good hygiene.