Iraq on whole lockdown till March 28 over virus fears

A father walks together with his baby alongside a abandoned road throughout a curfew imposed as a measure to stem the unfold of the novel coronavirus in Iraq’s southern metropolis of Basra on March 21, 2020. Basra governor introduced a curfew within the southern province bordering Iran from Monday till Sunday morning. All collectively, greater than half of the 18 Iraqi provinces introduced curfews for a number of days in hope it might include the brand new coronavirus outbreak. Hussein FALEH / AFP

Iraq on Sunday imposed a complete nationwide lockdown till March 28 to combat the novel coronavirus, because the variety of instances grew and the loss of life toll climbed to 20.

Most of Iraq’s 18 provinces had to this point imposed their very own native curfews however the brand new measures would come with the entire of the nation, based on a brand new determination by the federal government’s disaster cell.

Schools, universities and different gathering locations would stay closed, as would the nation’s a number of worldwide airports, it mentioned in an announcement seen by AFP.

Many had feared a possible inflow of instances from neighbouring Iran, the place 1,685 folks have died after contracting the COVID-19 respiratory sickness, based on the newest official toll Sunday.

Iraq first shut its 1,500-kilometre border with Iran a couple of month in the past and deployed troops to implement the choice.

It has logged a complete of 233 coronavirus instances and recorded 20 deaths, however there are issues that many extra are going undetected as solely 2,000 folks of the nation’s 40-million inhabitants have been examined to this point.

Authorities have struggled to implement earlier curfews.

On Saturday, tens of 1000’s of Shiite pilgrims turned out in Baghdad and different cities within the south of the nation to commemorate the loss of life of a revered Muslim imam.

And Moqtada Sadr, a populist cleric with a cult-like following, has continued to carry mass prayers in his hometown of Kufa south of Baghdad and within the capital’s densely-populated Sadr City.

Health Minister Jaafar Allawi despatched Sadr a private letter in a bid to persuade him to name off his weekly prayers, which current an unlimited contamination threat.

Allawi has expressed fears {that a} wider outbreak would overwhelm the nation’s well being system, which already faces shortages in gear, drugs and workers after many years of battle and little funding by nationwide authorities.

Last week, he mentioned he had not been granted his request for $5 million in emergency funds from the federal authorities.

Iraq is OPEC’s second-biggest crude producer, and falling oil costs have put the nation in a bind as greater than 90 p.c of its state finances is funded by oil revenues.

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