Iraqi nationwide curfew to end

Iraq’s nationwide curfew to limit the spread of COVID-19 will today come to a close. In late May, Iraqi authorities

A deserted street in Basra

Photo: AFP

Iraq’s nationwide curfew to limit the spread of COVID-19 will today come to a close.

In late May, Iraqi authorities implemented several measures in addition to the curfew, including the mandatory wearing of face masks and maximum occupancy limits. The curfew was imposed following a surge in infections after premature easing in April.

Iraq’s health system has been dismantled following decades of conflict, corruption and poor governance, and doctors believe the system cannot handle more than 10,000 patients at a time. Deteriorating state-society relations, which have wrought the current national shortage of ICU beds and protective equipment, pose the greatest challenge to Iraq’s COVID-19 response. The Ministry of Health currently relies on patients to self-present at designated public hospitals, but there is a general reluctance to hospitalise family members, particularly among female relatives.

Even as Iraq bolsters its supplies, distrust in state institutions will continue to pose a problem to national response efforts. In addition to the citizenry’s reluctance to self-hospitalise, anti-government protesters are prepared to restart demonstrations. As the curfew is lifted, expect a viral resurgence that could prompt a reinstitution of lockdown measures. A defiance of curfew by demonstrators will likely spark a violent backlash from government security forces.

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