Iraq Sees Surge of COVID-19, Cholera Cases
Iraq’s Health Ministry reported 4,819 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection on Wednesday – the highest daily number since early February 8. And the virus is expected to continue to spread; Iraq’s estimated effective reproduction rate (R), the average number of new infections caused by a single infected individual, stands at 1.83. Among Middle Eastern and North African countries, only Mauritania and Pakistan now have higher R values.
Iraq has seen 2.37 million cases and 25,249 deaths from the disease since the beginning of the pandemic. Health officials in the country say vaccine hesitancy remains high. Only 18.48% of Iraqi residents are considered fully vaccinated.
But Iraq is far from the worst-hit Middle Eastern country in the current COVID-19 wave. The country in the MENA region with the highest rate of new infections relative to population is Cyprus: The island nation’s seven-day rolling average of daily new confirmed cases is 1,735 per million population. Nine countries in the region (Cyprus, Israel, Bahrain, Qatar, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates, Tunisia, Turkey, and Kuwait) all have higher rates of new infection than Iraq.
Iraq is also far from the worst in terms of daily new deaths due to COVID-19 relative to population size. The hardest hit by this measure is Israel, whose seven-day rolling average of daily new deaths stands at 1.31 deaths per million. Tunisia follows the Jewish state but only has about half the number of daily deaths per million. In addition, Bahrain, Cyprus, Lebanon, the UAE, Morocco, Turkey, Mauritania, the Palestinian territories, and Iran all have more new deaths from COVID-19 relative to their populations than does Iraq.
Health authorities in Baghdad also say Iraq is experiencing a cholera outbreak. The Health Ministry reported 39 new cases of cholera, in addition to 169 previously reported cases, bringing the total infections in the current outbreak, which began on June 19, to 208. The ministry urged citizens to follow health and hygiene instructions and drink only sterilized water.