A representative of the United Nations Mission in Iraq has praised the extensive measures taken by the Iraqi Government in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus in the country.
During a visit to the Iraqi Ministry of Health, the head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, praised the Iraqi Government for the measures it has taken to confront the coronavirus outbreak. A representative from the World Health Organisation (WHO) joined Hennis-Plasschaert and confirmed that the measures taken so far have succeeded in reducing the spread of the virus.
“COVID-19 is an unprecedented challenge. Until now, Iraq has managed to contain the spread of the virus, but it is only an initial success in a long struggle with the virus. With the best cooperation between official bodies and citizens, it can be defeated”, said Hennis-Plasschaert.
The Iraqi Government has brought in a series of measures aimed at slowing down the spread of coronavirus in the country. These measures include a nationwide lockdown, which was imposed on Sunday. So far, the country has recorded 233 cases and 20 deaths. However, health officials warn the true number of those infected could be much higher, as only around 2,000 people have been tested for the virus so far.
Local authorities have already imposed curfews in the hope of preventing an outbreak, although they faced difficulty enforcing these laws. The government’s decision to impose a lockdown is nationwide and will be in force until March 28th. Schools, universities and airports are to remain closed.
Iraq is on particularly high alert due to the high number of cases in neighbouring Iran, which has 23,049 confirmed cases of coronavirus so far. Iraq shut its border with Iran around a month ago, and deployed troops to enforce the border.
The Iraqi Government’s decision to enforce stricter measures to combat the spread of the virus comes after Health Minister Jaafar Allawi voices concerns over the ability of health services to deal with the strain of an outbreak. Iraq’s health system already faces shortages in equipment, medicine and staff. Allawi was not granted his request for $5million in emergency funds, as the government struggles with falling oil prices, with more that 90% of the state budget funded by oil revenues.