Coronavirus: Iraq orders medical students to work at hospitals

Decision by National Security Council comes after sharp rise in Covid-19 deaths

Iraqi authorities ordered medical students to volunteer at the country’s hospitals after a sharp increase in coronavirus deaths was reported.

The National Security Council made the decision during a Saturday session chaired by Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi, state media said.

Fifth and sixth-year medical students will be "directed to volunteer to work at hospitals" to support health staff "in the confrontation against the coronavirus pandemic", the council said.

The latest official data on Saturday showed that 101 more people had died from the coronavirus in Iraq, taking the death toll to 1,669. The number of confirmed cases stood at 43,262.

But the pandemic is widely believed to have inflicted far more damage on the population than official figures suggest.

Responding to reports of oxygen-supply shortages, the Health Ministry said on Friday that its cylinder-refilling plant “is doubling its efforts to produce the largest volumes of oxygen to meet hospitals’ needs”.