A man receives the AstraZeneca vaccine at a clinic in Baghdad, Iraq, on Wednesday. AP
COVID-19 infections in Iraq surpassed one million on Wednesday, the health ministry said, a figure unmatched in the Arab world, in a country that has long faced medical shortages.
The ministry reported 8,696 new coronavirus infections and 38 deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing the total since the start of the country's outbreak in February last year to 1,001,854, including 15,098 deaths.
The ministry has said it carries out around 40,000 tests daily from a population of 40 million.
Iraq's hospitals have been worn down by decades of conflict and poor investment, with shortages in medicines and hospital beds.
Those patients who can often prefer to source oxygen tanks for treatment at home, rather than go to overcrowded and run-down hospitals.
The country launched its vaccination campaign last month, and has received nearly 650,000 doses of different vaccines -- the majority by donation or through the Covax programme, which is supporting lower and middle income nations to procure vaccines.
As of Wednesday, 274,343 people had received at least one dose, the ministry said.
Health authorities have faced an uphill battle to convince Iraqis to get vaccinated, in the face of widespread scepticism over the jab and public reluctance to wear masks since the start of the pandemic.
The Health Ministry also announced the death of seven people of different nationalities who were infected with the virus, and as a result of complications associated with other diseases. This brings the number of deaths in the country to 126.
Those medical workers say they were defenseless to handle the contagion. During the first 90 days of the outbreak alone, about one medical staffer died each day and dozens became infected.
Blockaded and short on medical facilities, Gaza, run by the Hamas group, has reported only 55 coronavirus infection cases among its population of two million.
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