Iraq’s official death toll from the novel coronavirus has surpassed 2,000, the health ministry said Wednesday, as the war-ravaged country’s crippled healthcare system struggles to cope.
Health authorities announced there were now 51,524 cases of the COVID-19 disease in the country and that 2,050 people had died of the virus, while 26,267 people had recovered.
Iraq, which has recorded cases in all of its 18 provinces but mainly in Baghdad — a city of 10 million people — said it has carried out 556,000 tests since March.
But due to decades of chronic shortages of doctors, medicines and hospital beds, the country has relied heavily on aid from abroad to continue testing its population.
According to the World Health Organization, there are 14 hospital beds per 10,000 inhabitants in Iraq — compared to 60 in France, for example — and the oil-rich country devotes just 1.8 percent of its budget to health.
Hospitals across the country have been overwhelmed over recent weeks by a jump in cases and deaths, following months of the virus spreading relatively slowly.
Doctors in coronavirus wards have complained of a lack of personal protective equipment and say they have been made to keep working even if they showed symptoms of infection.
Hundreds of COVID-19 cases have been recorded in their ranks.
Despite the rise in infections, authorities are refusing to reimpose a full lockdown in an effort to revive the economy.