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The Financial Express

Iraq lifts lockdown, imposing partial curfew

| Updated: May 16, 2021 16:44:44


Iraq lifts lockdown, imposing partial curfew

Iraq's authorities has lifted the planned 10-day full lockdown put into effect to curb the rising COVID-19 infections, replacing it with a partial curfew.

The Iraqi authorities earlier decided to tighten COVID-19-related restrictive measures, including a full curfew from May 12 to 22. Malls, restaurants, cafes, and other public facilities were required to be closed.

One day after the full curfew came into effect on Wednesday, a statement by the Higher Committee for Health and National Safety said that the committee decided to ease the restriction and replace the full curfew with a partial one to facilitate the vaccination campaign, reports Xinhua.

A statement of the Ministry of Health shows that the daily count of citizens receiving vaccines before Wednesday exceeded 21,000, while decreased sharply to 8,774 on Thursday and 3,825 on Friday, apparently due to the curfew and the beginning of the Eid al-Fitr holiday, which marks the end of Ramadan.

Ziyad al-Jubouri, a professor of economics at Baghdad University, told Xinhua that vaccination is an essential process to contain the pandemic and help the country return to normality.

However, he said facilitating vaccination is not the only reason that prompted the higher committee to quickly lift the full curfew. He also attributed the decision to the economic difficulties faced by people in the war-torn country, where the poverty rate is about 27 per cent.

The previously announced full curfew angered many laborers, stall vendors, and other self-employed craftsmen who were living hand-to-mouth and anxiously waiting to do a brisk trade during the last several days of the Ramadan and the three-day Eid al-Fitr holiday.

Hundreds of citizens rallied in Baghdad and some other provinces to protest against the restrictions, particularly the full curfew.

Anas Dara, an employee of a humanitarian organization, said the decision to cancel the full curfew "balances the health requirements and the living requirements of poor citizens."

Unlike others, Dr. Mohammed Hassan from a private al-Tawfiq Hospital in Salhudin's provincial capital Tikrit told Xinhua that he prefers to maintain the full curfew due to the seriousness of the epidemiological situation in the country.

"We are in a difficult health situation, especially with fears of the spread of the double mutant variant," Hassan said.

But with lifting the full curfew, Hassan called on citizens to adhere to health-protective measures and refrain from holding social gatherings, especially during the Eid al-Fitr holiday.

Hassan also hoped more citizens will be vaccinated, as currently, it is the most effective option to avoid COVID-19 infections.

As of Saturday, a statement by the ministry of health said Iraq's caseload reached 1,136,917 with 15,930 deaths.

Iraq has been pushing forward its vaccination drive after its drug authority approved the emergency use of China's Sinopharm vaccine and other COVID-19 vaccines.

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