The Coronavirus pandemic in Iraq has seriously impacted the people, especially the poor. According to the latest official figures, on 24 May 2020, the total number of confirmed cases was 4469, with 160 deaths and 2738 recovered.
The government initially issued health advice and warnings to the public. However, when the Coronavirus was declared a global health emergency by the WHO, and neighbouring Iran became one of the major hotspots of the pandemic, strict measures were imposed, culminating in a curfew. It was partially lifted on 20 April 2020 in preparation for Ramadan, despite a warning from the WHO that the epidemic has not yet reached its peak.
There is deep concern that the official figures do not reflect the gravity of the situation. They are based on a small number of tests, totalling no more than 188,685 (as of 24 May).
The pandemic has exposed the dilapidated state of the health sector in Iraq and highlighted the catastrophic consequences of poor funding and attempts of privatization. There has been a lack of essential protective personal equipment (PPEs), ventilators and test kits. On the other hand, Iraqis are full of praise for the valiant efforts of the medical and nursing cadres and health workers.
The pandemic has compounded the hardship suffered by the poor in Iraq, numbering more than 10 million in a population of 40 million, according to official figures. As a result of the curfew imposed by the government on 17 March 2020, the poor and low-income strata were deprived of their meagre daily earnings. The government’s efforts to alleviate their suffering have been pathetic.