Baghdad sees hike in Covid-19 infections two weeks after Papal visit

Yesterday there were 5663 new cases to the virus and 33 deaths. On average 40 thousand tests are carried out every day; an insufficient number according to experts to contain the infections. Baghdad auxiliary: In Jordan a "major increase", the new coronavirus is now "part of everyday life".


Baghdad (AsiaNews) - Almost two weeks after Pope Francis' historic visit, Iraq is experiencing a peak of new coronavirus infections with record numbers and an incidence rate defined as "unusual" by experts.

A small event, with a limited number of participants both in the celebrations and on the occasion of public meetings, which nevertheless attracted the attention of thousands of people, Christians and Muslims, resulting in inevitable gatherings.

According to official data provided by the Ministry of Health, on March 17 there were 5663 new cases of positivity to the virus and 33 deaths in a nation of about 40 million inhabitants and struggling with decades of shortages of medicines, doctors and functioning hospitals. Hence the choice of the authorities to confirm the curfew, to avoid opportunities for gatherings and transmission.

Interviewed by AsiaNews, Msgr. Basilio Yaldo, auxiliary of Baghdad and close collaborator of the patriarch Louis Raphael Sako, underlines that “the numbers do not differ greatly from normal. Over 4 thousand cases have been recorded for some time, so there has not been a great variation” after the apostolic journey.

Furthermore, the prelate points out, “Jordan has seen an even greater growth, very significant in relation to the population and far greater than in Iraq where, this is true, we should strengthen testing and tracing operations. After all - he concludes - Covid-19 has now become part of our daily life. Before, people were very afraid, now they know that it is an element like the others to face”.

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, there have been 768,352 cases of the new coronavirus and 13,827 victims. Again according to the figures provided by the Ministry of Health, about 40 thousand tests are carried out every day; a number according to experts too small in a nation that has several cities with over two million inhabitants, in which the population density is high and promiscuity in the environments, especially inside the houses, a permanent factor.

In addition to the lack of medicines, doctors and equipment to treat the sick - so much so that, in general, the infected prefer to get oxygen cylinders and stay at home, instead of going to hospitals - there are also very limited supplies of vaccines. Iraq has so far received a paltry total of 50,000 doses of the Chinese Sinopharm, arriving on the eve of the pope’s visit.

The government intends to buy 16 million doses, but the Parliament's failure to approve the 2021 budget has so far blocked the operations.

On the occasion of the Pope's meetings and celebrations, but this also happens in everyday life, it was rare to see people wearing masks or personal protective equipment. The recent introduction of a rule that invites use has so far remained largely ignored.