Iraq reports 2,224 new COVID-19 cases, 643,852 in total

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BAGHDAD, Feb. 14 (Xinhua) -- The Iraqi Health Ministry reported on Sunday 2,224 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the tally of confirmed cases in the country to 643,852.

The ministry also reported 15 new deaths, raising the death toll from the infectious virus to 13,179. It said that 1,079 cases recovered during the day, bringing the total recoveries to 607,059.

A total of 6,231,015 tests have been carried out across the country since the outbreak of the disease in February 2020, with 38,939 done during the day, according to the statement.

Meanwhile, Iraqi Minister of Health Hassan al-Tamimi told the official Iraqiya channel that teams from the ministry would be deployed in Baghdad and other Iraqi provinces to monitor the implementation of health-protective measures and to impose fines on violators.

"The health ministry personnel will team up with the security forces to impose fines under the latest decisions of the Higher Committee for Health and National Safety," al-Tamimi said.

For her part, Ruba Falah, head of the ministry's media office, said in a press release that the ministry's employees have begun conducting tests to detect the new strains of the coronavirus.

Falah confirmed that the ministry dedicated the Central Laboratory of Public Health and the laboratory of the Medical City in Baghdad to detect the new strains of the virus.

On Saturday, the higher committee, headed by Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, decided to impose a partial curfew for four days and a full curfew for three days during the period from Feb. 18 until March 8.

During the period, the partial curfew will start from 8 p.m. until 5 a.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. While the full curfew will be on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

The committee also stated that the governmental institutions will work with 50 percent of its employees, except for the Ministry of Health.

The decisions included preventing gatherings such as collective prayers in mosques, wedding and funeral ceremonies, as well as imposing a fine of 25,000 Iraqi Dinar, about 17 U.S. dollars, against individuals who do not abide by wearing masks inside cars and buses.

Iraq has taken a series of measures to curb the pandemic since the first coronavirus case appeared in the country.

China has been helping Iraq in its fight against the pandemic. On Feb. 4, the Chinese Embassy in Iraq said the Chinese government donated 50,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to Iraq.

Earlier, the Iraqi Health Ministry said the Iraqi National Board for Selection of Drugs had approved the emergency use of China's Sinopharm and Britain's AstraZeneca vaccines to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

From March 7 to April 26 in 2020, a Chinese team of seven medical experts spent 50 days in Iraq to help fight the disease, during which they helped build a PCR lab and install an advanced CT scanner in Baghdad.

China has also sent three batches of medical aid to Iraq. Enditem

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