Iraq + 1 more

Iraq | UNHCR COVID-19 Update II | 25 March 2020

Situation Report
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  • confirmed cases in Iraq: 316
  • confirmed cases affecting UNHCR persons of concern: 0

As of 25 March, 316 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Iraq, with 27 fatalities, most of which in Baghdad. For the time being, no cases have been identified affecting UNHCR people of concern. The situation is evolving on a daily basis and it is yet difficult to assess the overall impact of the virus on the operation, however, the actions taken by the Government to date have already affected UNHCR's ability to implement certain activities. Since mid-March, the Government of Iraq (GoI) and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) have announced the following measures:

▪ Total lockdown in Iraq (17 to 28 March, with likely extension) except for life-saving and humanitarian activities

▪ Suspensions of all flights from 17 to 28 March

▪ Closure of Iraq-Syria border crossing points

▪ Disinfection campaigns in specifically identified areas

▪ Restriction of movement in and out of IDP and refugee camps in most governorates

▪ Entry ban or mandatory quarantine for foreigners arriving from certain countries

▪ Sermons, mass gatherings, school, and university classes temporarily suspended

While the vast majority of cases in Iraq are attributed to people who recently returned from Iran, the World Health Organization (WHO) has acknowledged that the spread of COVID-19 in Iraq has now reached community transmission levels. The number of cases is expected to continue increasing in the coming days, especially following recent pilgrimages. At this stage, robust preventative measures are the best defense against a rising caseload. WHO has stated that the relative youth of Iraq’s population (60% under 25) could contribute to milder symptoms and quicker recovery for many of those infected. Community-based tracking measures are being implemented throughout the country for all suspected cases and new testing labs have been opened in Najaf and Basra with the support of WHO.