Iraqi Kurdistan says no new coronavirus cases, opposition says govt is hiding real data

Iraqi Kurdistan says no new coronavirus cases, opposition says govt is hiding real data

2020/04/13 | 21:25 - Source: Iraq News

(ThisDay | Iraq News Now)- Coronavirus medical center in Sulaimani, Iraqi Kurdistan, April 2020.

Photo: NRT TV

HEWLÊR-Erbil, Iraq’s Kurdistan region,— Iraqi Kurdistan Region Health Minister Saman Barzinji on Monday announced that authorities had not recorded any new cases of the coronavirus disease over the past 24 hours but affirmed that the infection remains a threat to public health.

“During the past 24 hours, we conducted 1,792 laboratory tests, and all the results were negative,” Barzinji told a news conference in Erbil.

He explained that the examinations included samples from across the Kurdistan Region.

On Sunday, a total of 17,261 people had been tested for the virus in Iraqi Kurdistan, with the number of positive results at 330, according to data available on the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) website.

Monday’s numbers revealed by the minister rose the total to 19,053, while infections stayed the same at 330.

Barzinji stated that the lack of infections does not mean the KRG has controlled the coronavirus outbreak or an end to strict new regulations to contain it.

He stressed the need to continue to adhere to precautionary measures to limit the spread of the global pandemic.

Barzinji said he does not support the lifting of a curfew that has been in place since mid-March.

The restriction on movement is still across the region.

“The orders must remain in effect,” he affirmed.

“We need more time to control the pandemic.

We are still in the stage of danger,” Barzinji said.

But the leader of the opposition New Generation Movement Shaswar Abdulwahid on Sunday called for transparency in government data about the coronavirus outbreak in the Kurdistan Region, while stressing the negative economic impact the pandemic has had on the public.

Abdulwahid said that he believed in the danger posed by coronavirus, implying that his political opponents have misconstrued some of his statements on the matter.

“If I want to say something about the lack of coronavirus cases in the Region, then I will say it freely, but I have not said that,” Abdulwahid said, referring to accusations that he has underplayed the danger.

He accused the government of sowing doubt about its official statistics, arguing that there is a lack of clarity in the data.

“The people of the Kurdistan Region have dealt with coronavirus cautiously and have stayed at their homes without an income or salary, but the government is unable to provide and buy ventilators and does not have any solution for their livelihoods,” he said, adding that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) should have done more to prepare for such a situation.

“We must have hospitals and medical kits, including ventilators, besides health guidelines and quarantine procedures,” he said.

So far, and according to the KRG ministry of health there have been 330 cases of coronavirus in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Over 150 patients have recovered, and four people have died.

The regional Health Ministry has recently reported a decline in the number of new coronavirus infections after seeing a jump in the past weeks, a portion of which came from two funeral gatherings in the capital that resulted in the disease being transmitted to dozens of people.

In early March, the KRG ordered the closure of all religious services, as well as restaurants, coffee shops, and other entertainment or sports venues.

This was followed by strict curfew measures two weeks later that the government has extended and expanded multiple times.

For the most part, the public at large has cooperated, but security forces have needed to enforce the new rules.

Preventive measures also include ordering the closure of non-essential public facilities and private businesses, in addition to shutting down airports and border crossings.

In Sulaimani, however, the authorities have proposed to the KRG to ease restrictions in a step-by-step manner, allowing the reopening of businesses providing essential goods and services, decisions that, if approved, may be subject to change depending on the outcome.

Erbil is considering similar steps.

The final say on the proposed measures to lift restrictions lies with the Health Ministry and the KRG, Sulaimani governor Haval Abubakir said.

Iraqi Kurdistan is not unified region, it is divided politically and geographically between the KDP led by Massoud Barzani and PUK led by the Talabani’s clan.

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