Protect yourself, coronavirus curfew not panacea: Sulaimani governor

Sulaimani Governor Haval Abubakir

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SULAIMANI — Sulaimani Governor Haval Abubakir said on Monday (June 1) that the curfew is designed to reduce the spread of coronavirus, but argued that residents must protect themselves for it to be truly effective.

“The curfew cannot solve this situation, but it slows down the [rate of] infection,” Abubakir told NRT’s Tawtwe interview program, warning that the governorate had limited medical capacity to deal with a large-scale outbreak.

“We only have 250 hospital beds in Sulaimani and 60 ventilators,” he said.

On Sunday, the health authorities recorded 101 new cases in the governorate alone, by the far the worst day of the outbreak.A further 28 people tested positive in the governorate on Monday.

“People have lost trust in the health offices and they no longer allow medical teams to take samples from them for testing, so even now we cannot not tackle coronavirus in Sulaimani,” Abubakir said.

Opposition figures have increasingly accused the government of using the curfew restrictions to tamp down on protests against the government’s handling of economic problems caused by the outbreak, low oil prices, and a budget dispute with Baghdad. As a result, many public sector workers worry that the government will not pay them this month.

“The danger of coronavirus is serious, but the curfew does remove the responsibly of salary disbursement from the government,” Abubakir said, adding that the impact from the outbreak will likely be felt for years to come.

On Monday night, groups of protesters demonstrated in Darbandkihan, Ranya, and Qaladze against the curfew, saying that they are having trouble making ends meet as a result of the restrictions.

Nevertheless, he said that the government was working to alleviate some of the suffering of residents, saying that officials had “provided 33,000 food boxes for families in need in Sulaimani governorate.”

Another challenge, he said was dealing with the border with Iran.

“We alone cannot close the border crossings and we need Iran’s permission to do so. If we close the borders, food and supplies will not remain in the bazaars for the people,”

(NRT Digital Media)