COVID-19 pandemic in Iraq

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic was first confirmed to have spread to Iraq in February 2020. Cases have been confirmed in all 19 Iraqi Governorates as of the 27 March, with the Iraqi Kurdistan region accounting for 309 (26%) of those cases as of 8 April.[2] During the pandemic, Iraq reported its first confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 infections on 22 February 2020 in Najaf.[3] By April, the number of confirmed cases had exceeded the hundred mark in Baghdad, Basra, Sulaymaniyah, Erbil and Najaf.[1]

COVID-19 pandemic in Iraq
Qayara Airfield West transfer, March 2020.jpg
Iraqi security forces wearing sick masks during the transfer of an airfield in March 2020.
Number of confirmed cases by province (as of 3rd April 2020).jpg
Number of confirmed cases by governorate as of 20th May 2020[1]
  Confirmed cases 1–9
  Confirmed cases 10–49
  Confirmed cases 50-99
  Confirmed cases 100-199
  Confirmed cases ≥200
DiseaseCOVID-19
Virus strainSARS-CoV-2
LocationIraq
First outbreakQom, Iran
Index caseNajaf
Arrival date22 February 2020 – present
(3 months and 2 days)
Confirmed cases4,469
Active cases1,571
Recovered2,738
Deaths
160
Government website
https://coronavirus.iq

As of the 7th of April, 28,414 tests have been done in Iraq as a whole (including the Kurdistan Region), with 1202 of them turning out positive.[1] Of those tests, 12,143 were done by the Kurdish Ministry of Health, which means that only 16,271 were done by the Iraqi Ministry of Health.[2] This means that while 0.25% of the KRG population has been tested, only 0.05% of the rest of the country has been tested, thus highlighting the possible disparity between total positive case numbers in the region and the rest of the country. Iraq is considered especially vulnerable to the epidemic due to being ravaged - by war and U.N. sanctions, by sectarian conflict and the rise of Islamic State over the past three decades.[4]

BackgroundEdit

Illness is stigmatized in Iraq, and there is concern that this discourages many Iraqis from seeking medical care and getting tested, which may result in an undercount of cases. Quarantine carries an additional stigma.[5] In addition, authorities worry the tradition of washing the body after death could increase the spread of COVID-19.[5]

TimelineEdit

COVID-19 cases in Iraq  ()
     Deaths        Recoveries        Active cases
Date
Cases (% rise)
Deaths (% rise)
2020-02-24
1(+1)
1(=)
2020-03-01
8(+700%)
9(=)
2020-03-03
9(=) 1(+1)
2020-03-04
32(+256%) 2(+1)
32(=) 2(=)
2020-03-09
67(+109%) 7(+5)
2020-03-10
71(+6%) 9(+2)
2020-03-11
71(=) 10(+1)
2020-03-12
79(+11%) 10(=)
79(=) 10(=)
2020-03-14
110(+39%) 10(=)
2020-03-15
124(+13%) 10(=)
2020-03-16
133(+7%) 10(=)
2020-03-17
154(+16%) 11(+1)
2020-03-18
164(+6%) 12(+1)
2020-03-19
192(+17%) 13(+1)
2020-03-20
208(+8%) 17(+4)
2020-03-21
214(+4%) 17(=)
2020-03-22
233(+9%) 20(+3)
2020-03-23
266(+14%) 23(+3)
2020-03-24
316(+16%) 27(+4)
2020-03-25
346(+9%) 29(+2)
2020-03-26
382(+10%) 36(+7)
2020-03-27
458(+20%) 40(+4)
2020-03-28
506(+11%) 42(+2)
2020-03-29
547(+8%) 42(=)
2020-03-30
630(+15%) 46(+4)
2020-03-31
695(+10%) 50(+4)
2020-04-01
728(+5%) 52(+2)
2020-04-02
772(+6%) 54(+2)
2020-04-03
820(+6%) 54(=)
2020-04-04
878(+7%) 56(+2)
2020-04-05
961(+9%) 61(+5)
2020-04-06
1,031(+7%) 64(+3)
2020-04-07
1,122(+9%) 65(+1)
2020-04-08
1,202(+7%) 69(+4)
2020-04-09
1,232(+2%) 69(=)
2020-04-10
1,279(+4%) 70(+1)
2020-04-11
1,318(+3%) 72(+2)
2020-04-12
1,352(+3%) 76(+4)
2020-04-13
1,378(+2%) 78(+2)
2020-04-14
1,400(+2%) 78(=)
2020-04-15
1,415(+1%) 79(+1)
2020-04-16
1,434(+1%) 80(+1)
2020-04-17
1,482(+3%) 81(+1)
2020-04-18
1,513(+2%) 82(+1)
2020-04-19
1,539(+2%) 82(=)
2020-04-20
1,574(+2%) 82(=)
2020-04-21
1,602(+2%) 83(+1)
2020-04-22
1,631(+2%) 83(=)
2020-04-23
1,677(+3%) 83(=)
2020-04-24
1,708(+2%) 86(+3)
2020-04-25
1,763(+3%) 86(=)
2020-04-26
1,820(+3%) 87(+1)
2020-04-27
1,847(+1%) 88(+1)
2020-04-28
1,928(+4%) 90(+2)
2020-04-29
2,003(+4%) 92(+2)
2020-04-30
2,085(+4%) 93(+1)
2020-05-01
2,153(+3%) 94(+1)
2020-05-02
2,219(+3%) 95(+1)
2020-05-03
2,296(+3.5%) 97(+2)
2020-05-04
2,346(+2%) 98(+1)
2020-05-05
2,431(+3.5%) 102(+4)
2020-05-06
2,480(+2%) 102(=)
2020-05-07
2,543(+3%) 102(=)
2020-05-08
2,603(+2%) 104(+2)
2020-05-09
2,679(+3%) 107(+3)
2020-05-10
2,767(+3%) 109(+2)
2020-05-11
2,818(+2%) 110(+1)
2020-05-12
2,913(+3.4%) 112(+2)
2020-05-13
3,032(+4%) 115(+3)
2020-05-14
3,143(+3.7%) 115(=)
2020-05-15
3,193(+1.5%) 117(+2)
2020-05-16
3,260(+2%) 121(+3.5%)
2020-05-17
3,404(+4.5%) 123(+1.5%)
2020-05-18
3,554(+4.5%) 127(+3%)
2020-05-19
3,611(+1.5%) 131(+3%)
2020-05-20
3,724(+3.5%) 134(+3%)
2020-05-21
3,877(+4%) 140(+4.5%)
2020-05-22
3,964(+2%) 147(+5%)
2020-05-23
4,272(+8%) 152(+3%)
2020-05-24
4,469(+5%) 160(+5%)
Cases: The number of non-repatriated cases reported by the Government
Sources: Various news sources and state health department websites. See Timeline Table and Timeline narrative for sources.[6]


February 2020Edit

A suspected case in the province of Dhi Qar was reported in Iraq on the 22 February, which was later confirmed to be positive according to a local medical centre,[7] but this was denied by the Iraqi Ministry of Health.[8][9] On the next day, the 24 February, they reported the first official case in Najaf. The detected case was an Iranian religious studies student in the city of Najaf, some 160 km (99 mi) south of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, and this case was confirmed after laboratory tests carried out during the day.[10]

March 2020Edit

The first case of COVID-19 infection in Iraqi Kurdistan was confirmed on the 1 March.[11][12]

On the 3 March, a 70-year-old Iraqi Islamic preacher, Rashid Abdulrahman, became the first fatality in Iraq due to the outbreak.[13] It was reported that the preacher from Sulaymaniyah district, had chronic heart failure and underlying asthma conditions on top of the coronavirus disease. The next day, his son announced that the preacher had not visited Iran recently.[14]

On the 4 March, the country's Ministry of Health spokesman Saif Al-Badr also confirmed a second death in Baghdad and 32 cases of the virus.[15] The first recovery was reported on the 6 March.[16] On the 9 March, the seventh death was announced, which was the first fatality in Basra. The number of cases had also risen to 67.[17] The next day, two new deaths were reported in Babil and Maysan. Iraqi authorities also announced the closure of Najaf Governorate for a week to non-residents.[18]

By the 10 March, the figure rose to 71 confirmed cases, as four more people were infected.[19] A total of 15 recoveries were also reported that day by Iraq's Ministry of Health. 11 of the patients in Baghdad and four in Kirkuk Governorate had fully recovered from the infection.[20]

The eighth patient died from the disease on the 11 March, which was the first death reported in Karbala.[21] By the 12 March, the Health Ministry had recorded 79 cases.[22]

On the 14 March, two more patients died, increasing the death rate to 10, including the first death of a couple (that had traveled to Iran) in Wasit Governorate.[23] Later, the Health Ministry reported that there was a total of 110 cases, with 26 recoveries.[24]

On the 16 March, 6 recoveries were reported. There were 9 recoveries on 17 March.[25]

On the 18 March, the death toll rose to 12 and 10 new cases were registered from 105 suspected cases. One new death was reported in Basra Governorate. 5 of the new cases came from Baghdad.[26]

The next day, the number of cases increased to 192 with 28 new cases, which marked the largest increase in a single day. One new death and 8 recoveries were also announced. On the 20 March, 208 positive cases were confirmed and four new deaths were announced, resulting in a total of 17 deaths. 6 new cases were reported on the 21 March, which meant that there was a total of 214 positive cases. 2 patients also recovered that day.[25]

On the 22 March, three new deaths were confirmed in Baghdad. The death toll increased to 20. There were 6 new recoveries.[27]

On the 23 March, three more deaths and five recoveries were reported and the number of cases rose to 266.[25] The Iraqi Ministry of Health announced the first case in Nineveh Governorate, leaving Saladin Governorate as the only Iraqi Governorate without any cases.[28][29]

On the 24 March, 50 new cases were registered.[30] The Health Ministry announced that the number of recoveries had increased to 75 and the number of deaths had increased to 27.[30][31]

30 new cases were announced on the 25 March and the number of recoveries increased to 89.[25] Included, was the first reported case in the Saladin Governorate of a woman in the town of Ishaqi, thus' confirming the presence of the virus in all 19 Iraqi provinces for the first time.[32]

On the 26 March, 36 new cases were reported, as well as 7 new deaths and a total of 105 recoveries. The death toll increased to 36 deaths.[25]

On the 27 March, the first cases were reported in Halabja and Saladin governorates, meaning that all Governorates of Iraq have been infected by COVID-19. The total number of cases increased to 458, after 76 new cases tested positive. The death toll also increased to 40, after four new deaths were confirmed. The number of recovered cases also increased to 122.[25]

On the 28 March, the total number of cases increased to 506, after 48 new cases tested positive. The death toll also increased to 42, after two new deaths were confirmed. The number of recovered cases also increased to 131.[25]

On the 29 March, the total number of cases increased to 547, after 41 new cases tested positive. For the first time in a week, the death toll did not see an increase, as no deaths were confirmed. The number of recovered cases also increased to 143.[25]

On the 30 March, the total number of cases increased to 630, after 48 new cases tested positive. The death toll also increased to 46, after four new deaths were confirmed. The number of recovered cases also increased to 152.[25]

On the 31 March, the total number of cases increased to 695, after 48 new cases tested positive. The death toll hit the 50 mark, after four new deaths were confirmed. The number of recovered cases also increased to 170.[25]

April 2020Edit

On the 1 April, the total number of cases reached 728, with 33 new cases. Two new deaths and 12 new recoveries were also recorded.[33]

On the 2 April, Iraq's Communications and Media Commission said that it had banned international news agency Reuters from operating in the country for three months for reporting that the number of the nation's novel coronavirus cases is much higher than official figures. It added that the agency was fined $20,000 and asked to apologize due to the story, which has "put social security at risk."[34] 33 new cases were announced, meaning that the total number of cases rose to 772. The number of recoveries reached 202, whilst two new deaths were recorded.[35]

On the 3 April, the number of confirmed cases rose to 820, with 226 recoveries. No new deaths were confirmed on this same day.[35]

On the 4 April, the number of confirmed cases rose to 878, with 259 recoveries. 2 new deaths were also confirmed on the same day.[36]

On the 5 April, the number of confirmed cases saw a daily record increase of 83 new and thus' the total number of cases rose to 961, with 279 total recoveries. 5 new deaths were also confirmed on the same day.[37] The significant rise in cases were attributed to both the capital Baghdad, which saw a rise of 27 cases, and the KRG capital Erbil, which saw a rise of 18 case. The cases in Erbil were attributed to a banned funeral gathering on the 21st and 23 March, with investigations and tests ongoing, the number is set to continue to rise.[38]

On the 6 April, the number of confirmed cases saw a daily increase of 70 new and saw the total number of cases rise to 1031, with 344 total recoveries. 3 new deaths were also confirmed on the same day.[37] The majority of those cases, 41 in total, were in the KRG capital of Erbil and 39 of them were related to the banned funeral gatherings that were discovered the previous day. This meant that a total of 71 of the 133 cases in Erbil could be traced back to that gathering.[39]

On 15 April, 15 new cases were recorded, which was the lowest number of cases reported in a single day since 21 March. On 16 April, 19 new cases were recorded, as well as the 80th fatality.[40]

Government response and impactsEdit

CurfewsEdit

On 13 March, the Kurdish Regional Government imposed a two-day curfew in Erbil and Sulaymaniyah, which later evolved to become a complete lockdown of the entire region of the KRG on 4 April. This was due to a rise in cases attributed to two funeral gatherings. This lockdown meant that apart from a few select pharmaceutical shops working through delivery, all shops would be closed and movement (even walking) banned.[41][2][38]

After the first death in Sheikh Saad, Wasit Governorate, the town placed into temporary lockdown after an elderly couple died from the coronavirus on 14 March.[42] On 15 March, a three-day curfew was imposed in Karbala.[43]

EducationEdit

Primary, middle and high schools had a midterm holiday since 16 February; a two-week holiday was extended for an additional week and then another week. On 18 March, all schools and universities in Baghdad were closed till further notice.[26]

Travel restrictionsEdit

Iraq closed its border with Iran in late February, only allowing Iraqi citizens that were returning, after the pandemic in Iran spread. Between 8 and 16 March, trading with Kuwait was suspended.[44] In response to the outbreak in Iraq, Jordan decided to restrict land and air travel with the country on 10 March.[45] On 10 March, the Kurdish Regional Government decided to close its border with Iran from 16 March until at least April.[21][46][47]

Iraq banned travelers from Germany and Qatar from 13 March in attempt to stop the disease from spreading.[48] Travelers from China, France, Iran, Italy, Japan, Singapore, Spain, South Korea, and Thailand were also on the ban list.[49][50] On 15 March, the government announced that all flights to and from Baghdad airport between 17 and 24 March would be suspended. The government also imposed a curfew in the capital, Baghdad, over the same period.[51]

Social issues and impactsEdit

On 27 February, schools, universities and cinemas in Baghdad were closed, and other large public gatherings (including major religious gatherings during Rajab[52]) in cities were banned until 7 March. The fear of contagion prevented mourners from burying their dead in communities across Iraq.[53]

Religious gatherings were banned on 13 March in the Kurdish Regional Government, but were not enforced strictly until 4 April, where it was discovered that two funeral gatherings on 21 and 23 March were responsible for a third of all cases in the city of Erbil.[2][38] On the same day, word got to the government of another illegal funeral gathering in the nearby village of Daratu, which led to the local Zerevani having to lock down the village as a result.[54]

U.S. troopsEdit

On 20 March 2020, the American-led Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) confirmed that certain troops would be withdrawing from Iraq due to the pandemic.[55] On that same day, United States Central Command ordered a 14-day "stop movement" preventing any U.S. troops from entering or leaving Iraq and Afghanistan because of the pandemic.[56] The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has planned to take advantage of the vacuum in the Syrian Desert caused by the coronavirus-expedited withdrawal of U.S. troops.[57]

StatisticsEdit

OverviewEdit

The table below shows the confirmed COVID-19 cases in each Governorate of Iraq.[58][59][60][61][62][63][64][65][66][67]

COVID-19 in Iraq by Governorate as of the 24th of May 2020
Province Cases Deaths Recovered
Al-Anbar Governorate 5 0 3
Al-Qādisiyyah Governorate 15 1 11
Babil Governorate 49 5 39
Baghdad Governorate 2,234 97 941
Basra Governorate 747 18 578
Dhi Qar Governorate 96 4 72
Diyala Governorate 45 5 21
Duhok Governorate 26 0 19
Erbil Governorate 242 1 211
Halabja Governorate 22 0 22
Karbala Governorate 152 8 118
Kirkuk Governorate 72 2 59
Maysan Governorate 52 2 45
Muthanna Governorate 117 4 95
Najaf Governorate 318 6 301
Nineveh Governorate 12 0 6
Sulaymaniyah Governorate 215 4 173
Saladin Governorate 13 0 9
Wasit Governorate 59 2 39
Total (19 Governorates) 4,469 160 2,738

MapsEdit

 
Percentage of inactive cases (including deaths and recoveries) % as of 20 May 2020[1]
  0%
  1-9%
  10-29%
  30-49%
  50-99%
  100%
 
% of Deaths per no. of Confirmed Cases (as of 20 May 2020)[1]
  0%
  1-9%
  10-29%
  30-49%

GraphsEdit

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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  66. ^ "وزارة الصحة العراقية".
  67. ^ "Najaf Health Department".