Iraq to impose national lockdown

Iraqi officials will meet today to set strict measures to limit the spread of COVID-19. A spike in the number

Iraq lockdown

Photo: Anmar Khalil/ AP

Iraqi officials will meet today to set strict measures to limit the spread of COVID-19.

A spike in the number of new COVID-19 cases, including the new strain first detected in the UK, has prompted Iraqi officials to impose new restrictions. The new rules will start a truncated curfew during the week, while a complete curfew will be in force on weekends until March 8. The restrictions may extend further if cases continue to rise.

Baghdad has taken a range of measures to restrain the pandemic since the first cases were reported in the country. However, the government and Iraqi health officials faced dire challenges with compliance. In October, Shia worshipers, many without facemasks, gathered to observe Arabeen in the holy city of Karbala.

The longer COVID-19 hampers economic activity and governance in Iraq, the higher the risk of renewed political unrest. With unemployment already high, continued economic sluggishness could compel more unemployed, disgruntled youth to take to the streets as the country’s resources are stretched increasingly thin.

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