Health

Preventive measures to protect Iraq IDPs from coronavirus

By Khalid al-Taie

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A team from the Iraqi Civil Defence sprays disinfectant at a tent in al-Karama camp in Salaheddine province on March 6th to prevent the spread of the coronavirus COVID 19. [Photo courtesy of the Iraqi Ministry of Migration]

The Iraqi authorities have launched a slew of preventive measures to reduce the risk to families in displacement camps of contracting coronavirus.

No suspected cases of infection with the coronavirus COVID-19 have been recorded among the internally displaced persons (IDPs) to date, an official told Diyaruna Monday (March 9th).

The Ministry of Migration and Displacement has taken a number of precautionary measures to protect those who have been displaced by the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) and are now living in camps from the coronavirus, said Ali Jahankir, director general of the ministry's branch affairs department.

They started Sunday to deploy special teams to disinfect and sterilize all camps located south of the city of Mosul, he said.

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An Iraqi man reads a leaflet to raise awareness of the danger of the coronavirus COVID 19 and of the ways to prevent it, on March 5th. [Photo courtesy of the Iraqi Ministry of Health]

Civil Defence teams last Friday sterilized and sprayed disinfectant in the al-Karama camp near the city of Tikrit in Salaheddine province and at IDP camps in Samarra, he said.

The authorities are seeking to meet the sterilisation and disinfection needs of all camps, he added.

"Camp administrations have started receiving health supplies, sterilisers and detergents to be distributed to the displaced families," Jahankir said.

"Some 350,000 masks are being distributed to the IDPs," he said, noting that the first batch of 15,000 masks was handed out Sunday.

Awareness campaigns

The preventive measures include "issuing strict instructions to all camp administrations to restrict movement in and out of the camps and raising awareness about the virus and how to avoid it", he noted.

"Executive decisions and procedures are not sufficient if there is no public awareness to protect against the virus and prevent its transmission," Jahankir stressed.

Government authorities have started conducting face-to-face awareness campaigns, distributing leaflets and posters and broadcasting television programmes that warn of the ways the virus spreads and how to avoid it.

The crisis cell in charge of combating the coronavirus has issued a decision to close all cafés, clubs, parks and other public gathering locations, and to suspend schools and universities until March 21st throughout the country, Jahankir said.

The border crossings with Iran also have been closed and trade exchange between the two countries has been temporarily suspended, he said.

Iraqis who are currently in Iran have been told they have till mid-March to return to Iraq, he added.

Six new cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed in the provinces of al-Muthanna, Anbar, Dhi Qar, Najaf, Baghdad and Maysan, the Iraqi Health Ministry announced Sunday.

Since the first case was reported on February 24th, the number of coronavirus infections in Iraq has reached 61 confirmed cases, and two deaths which were announced on March 5th.

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