Authorities in Iraq are continuing discussions to ensure appropriate measures are taken to curb the spread of the coronavirus in the country.
As the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in Iraq reaches 547, authorities are on high alert. The Parliamentary Crisis Task Force set up to deal with the coronavirus pandemic is continuing meetings in order to ensure the appropriate measures are taken by authorities in order to slow the spread of the virus. The task force renewed its call for Iraqis to respect the nation-wide curfew in order to prevent social interaction.
The Minister of Commerce, Commander of the Air Force and the Governor of Basra were among those present the task force’s most recent meeting. Recommendations included ensuring a high level of coordination between the Iraqi army, health directors and parliamentary ministers and streamlining food distribution.
“There is sufficient stock and the ministry is working with the Parliamentary Crisis Cell and the Prime Minister to provide ration cards and food items. In regard to the private sector, I call on merchants to provide food to the local markets and provide all that the citizens need during this period”, said Hassan Karim al-Kaabi, Parliament’s First Deputy Speaker.
Last week, the Iraqi government extended its nation-wide lockdown until April 11th in response to the coronavirus pandemic. School, universities, shopping centres and other gathering places are to remain closed. The government is attempting to keep the number of those effected by the virus low, as a spike in cases could overwhelm Iraq’s health system, which has faced years of under-investment. However, authorities are still concerned that some members of the public are not abiding by the lockdown.
Iraqi President Barham Salih addressed the nation in a televised speech last week, stressing the need to cooperate with authorities by respecting the curfew. His speech came after videos were posted online showing crowds attending a religious pilgrimage, despite advice from religious leaders not to attend. The Ministry of Defence announced it will be allocating more forces across Iraq to enforce the curfew.