The Kurdistan Region’s health ministry is calling for a full lockdown as numbers of new coronavirus infections are dramatically surging.
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) said on Monday that its coronavirus taskforce will meet on Tuesday to discuss the recent increase in cases.
At that meeting, “we will call for the announcement of a full lockdown, because we are heading into great danger, red category, or a partial lockdown, closing public places, reducing working hours in a way that does not affect the affairs of people,” Deputy Health Minister Rahel Faraidun told Rudaw.
Minster Saman Barzanji later told Rudaw they will suggest a partial lockdown, not a full one, despite the increase in cases. Curbing spread of the virus is not limited to imposing a lockdown, but includes things like encouraging people to get vaccinated, he said.
Barzanji said he supports closing event halls, limiting movement with Iraq, especially banning tourists from central and southern provinces from entering Kurdistan Region because “the situation in Iraq is much worse than Kurdistan Region.”
Kurdistan Region is an orange zone while Iraq is in the more severe red zone, he said, but that could change with the detection of the more contagious Delta variant. “This wave is serious, and this new variant spreads fast.”
When the first cases were detected in the Kurdistan Region last year, the KRG imposed a full lockdown that some business owners protested, as it severely hit their income and the government did not provide financial support or compensation.
Both Iraq and the Kurdistan Region announced record high numbers of new cases on Monday.
Barzanji said 206,256 doses of vaccine have been administered so far in the Kurdistan Region and they routinely receive new batches of the vaccine through the federal government.
Iraq recorded 12,180 new cases of the virus and 60 deaths on Monday. This included 3,559 cases and 13 deaths from Kurdistan Region, most are the more contagious Delta variant.
The Iraqi parliament’s crisis group called on the federal government to boost hospital services, including the number of beds, to respond to the pandemic.
It stressed “the need to support oxygen production plants and secure central storage for the Ministry of Health, and work to expand oxygen tanks in all hospitals and isolation centers, establish oxygen production laboratories, open the door for investment and facilitate procedures in this regard.”