Iraq coronavirus cases surpass one million, says health ministry
21 Apr 2021 10 56
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.