Iraqi authorities said Sunday 13 doctors have succumbed to coronavirus in the country since February.
A further 775 doctors have contracted the virus, Abdulalameer al-Shimmary, head of Iraq's Doctors' Association, told Anadolu Agency.
Iraqi authorities ordered medical students to volunteer at the country’s hospitals after a sharp increase in coronavirus deaths was reported.
The National Security Council made the decision during a Saturday session chaired by Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi, state media said.
Fifth and sixth-year medical students will be “directed to volunteer to work at hospitals” to support health staff “in the confrontation against the coronavirus pandemic”, the council said.
Authorities in Erbil province announced a total lockdown on late Sunday as the number of coronavirus infections continues to rise. Meanwhile, Kurdistan Region health officials reported 139 new cases and six deaths due to the complications related to the disease over 24 hours.
A ministry statement detailed that among over 1,400 coronavirus tests given in the past day, 139 returned positive. It also said the total number of infections had risen to about 5,700.
The statement noted that six more patients had passed away due to the highly contagious disease and added that, since the beginning of the outbreak, 186 people in the Kurdistan Region had succumbed to the virus.
Firsat Sofi, governor of Erbil, informed Rudaw that the provincial lockdown will begin on Tuesday, rather than on Monday as previously noted in a statement
The order will now be put in place between Tuesday, June 30, at 6:00 am and 11:59 pm on Saturday, July 4.
All civilian movement will be prohibited, including vehicle traffic.
Residents will be allowed to purchase essentials at their local
bakeries, supermarkets, groceries, and pharmacies, which will remain
open during the lockdown, according to the issued order. No hours of
operation have been specified for the essential businesses.
The resurgence of the Islamic State can be attributed to a weakened Iraqi government along with an administrative and security vacuum in the country.
The Islamic State (IS) has carried out a series of attacks in recent
times which has led security studies analysts to take note of the
resurgence of the terrorist and extremist groups in Iraq. According to a
May 2020 report by the Combating Terrorism Centre (CTC), there has been
a surge in attack activities in the second half of 2019 and the first
quarter of 2020.
The number of reported Islamic State attacks increased from 1,470 in 2018 to 1,669 in 2019, with 566 reported attacks in the first quarter of 2020 alone. As per the CTC report, the number of areas with active attack cells seems to nearly double, from an assessed 27 areas in December 2018 to an assessed 47 areas in May 2020. The IS attacks have taken place in the provinces of Anbar, Baghdad, Diyala, Kirkuk, Ninewa and Salah al-Din. The IS has also plenty of fighters at its disposal.
In May 2020, assessments from the U.S. Central Command, the Defence Intelligence Agency and the U.S.-led coalition, shared in a report by the Defense Department Inspector General, claimed that the IS as a group was still operating mostly on the margins, both in Iraq and Syria and the terror group lacks the capabilities to sustain that pace over several months. However, many security experts contend that the U.S.-led coalition is unable to see key changes on the ground.
The most recent U.S. estimates put the terror group’s force strength in Iraq and Syria at anywhere from 14,000 to 18,000 fighters. Further, despite the U.S. raid that killed former IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in October last year, IS has maintained command and control under new leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi.
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