Iraq registers jump in COVID-19 cases during Eid al-Fitr holiday

The Iraqi authorities said there were 163 confirmed coronavirus cases on Monday, which was greater than the number in a single day that prompted lockdowns in Baghdad last week.

al-monitor Iraqis walk in an amusement park on the second day of Eid al-Fitr after months of closure due to the coronavirus lockdown, Mosul, Iraq, May 25, 2020. Photo by ZAID AL-OBEIDI/AFP via Getty Images.

May 26, 2020

Iraq recorded 163 coronavirus cases yesterday. The relatively high number indicates the virus continues to spread in the country after lockdowns were reimposed for the Islamic Eid al-Fitr holiday and after outbreaks in Baghdad.

A spokesman for the Iraqi Ministry of Health made the announcement during a press conference on Monday. “On this day, the Ministry of Health registered 163 new, confirmed infections of the coronavirus,” Dr. Saif al-Badr said.

The number is significant because a similar figure was cited by the ministry when it reimposed lockdowns in parts of Baghdad last week. On May 18, the ministry registered 150 new cases in 24 hours, including 120 in Baghdad. Certain neighborhoods with high numbers of cases were then subject to “full” closings.

A majority of the cases were in Baghdad again, including the Rusafa area, which was one of the places shut down last week. Sulaimaniyah in the Kurdistan Region also had 10 cases, while Ninevah province in the north had 22, according to Badr.

Iraq began a series of lockdowns by province in March to mitigate the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19, before reopening areas to civilian movements last month. Last week, the authorities throughout the country instituted total lockdowns again for Eid al-Fitr — barring nonessential movement at all hours for a different number of days depending on the region. Yesterday was the second day of Eid.

In Baghdad, protests have continued despite virus concerns. Supporters of the Popular Mobilization Units stormed the office of TV channel MBC Iraq last week. Protests against the government also continue in Baghdad and other cities.

All of Iraq’s airports remain closed to civilian traffic. The current ban on commercial passenger flights is set to expire May 31, according to the Erbil International Airport. Past bans since March have been extended, however.

Iraq’s total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases is 4,848, according to Worldometer.

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