Economic situation in Kurdistan Region leads to worries over new coronavirus measures: official

A general view of Erbil city (File)

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SULAIMANI — Despite a significant deterioration in the public health environment over the past week, a member of the Supreme Committee for Coronavirus Response said on Wednesday (October 21) that officials in the Kurdistan Region were holding off on imposing new coronavirus lockdowns because of the fears that it could cause serious economic harm to the Kurdistan Region.

“If people do not observe [protective measures], I am predicting unpleasant decisions like the closure of bazaars, mosques, and public places,” Diyar Ibrahim told Voice of America (VOA). He is also the head of Garmian Health Directorate.

“A lockdown is not necessary for now because the Kurdistan Region’s situation cannot endure the declaration of lockdowns due to the financial crisis and lack of salary,” he said, adding that he did not support imposing new lockdown measures in any part of the Region.

The Region imposed a series of lockdowns and curfews starting in mid-March and lasting into May, before being gradually relaxed.

During that period, there were only several hundred coronavirus cases, with 710 officially recorded cases at the end of May.

The disease began to spread uncontrollably following Eid al-Fitr, after most lockdowns were lifted.

Initially centered on Sulaimani, the disease took hold in Erbil during June and July. Following Eid al-Adha, the number of new cases per day began to escalate in Duhok.

As of Tuesday, more than 63,000 people in the Kurdistan Region have been infected with the virus, which is almost certainly an undercount.

On August 15, Spokesperson for Duhok Health Directorate Hamza Raziki told NRT Digital Media that reimposing a lockdown was on the table, but that officials have hesitated to do so.

Officials recorded more than one thousand new COVID-19 cases on both Monday and Tuesday.

According to the health ministry, there have been 63,745 officially recorded cases of coronavirus in the Kurdistan Region as of Tuesday. An official tally of 38,186 patients has recovered from COVID-19 and 2,211 have died from it.

(NRT Digital Media)