Iraq hit with record-high COVID-19 deaths

An Iraqi phlebotomist holds a test tube containing a blood sample of a recovered COVID-19 patient at the blood bank of Iraq's southern city of Nasiriyah in Dhi Qar province, on June 24, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 25 June 2020

Iraq hit with record-high COVID-19 deaths

  • China, the UAE and the US have all donated COVID-related aid to Iraq
  • The Iraqi health sector has been worn down by years of war and poor investment and appears to be collapsing under the strain of the virus

BAGHDAD: Iraq registered nearly 2,500 new coronavirus cases and over 100 deaths on Thursday, setting new records in a country whose health sector had been bracing itself for such a spike.
Hospitals across the country have been overwhelmed over the last week by a jump in cases and deaths, following months of the virus spreading relatively slowly.
On Thursday, the health ministry said it had confirmed 2,437 new cases over the last day, bringing the total in the country to over 39,000 — of whom about half have recovered.
Another 107 people died of coronavirus-related causes, pushing the total death toll to 1,437.
Iraq had so far considered itself spared as the virus spread in other regional countries, including in neighboring Iran where more than 10,000 have died.
But the Iraqi health sector has been worn down by years of war and poor investment and appears to be collapsing under the strain of the virus.
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.
Tests are also still not widely available, with authorities conducting fewer than a half-million tests in March in a country of 40 million people.
China, the United Arab Emirates and the United States have all donated COVID-related aid to Iraq, which is also seeking emergency funding from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
Some of Iraq’s 18 provinces have maintained full lockdowns, but most have eased restrictions to a nightly curfew in an effort to revive the local economy.
Many shops have reopened, with customers and staff alike declining to wear masks or observe social distancing.

Full steam ahead for Egypt-Sudan rail network

Updated 34 min 41 sec ago

Full steam ahead for Egypt-Sudan rail network

  • Gateway project will open continent to new trade and jobs, says Cairo minister

CAIRO: Egypt’s Minister of Transport Kamel Al-Wazir has discussed plans with Sudanese counterpart Hashem bin Auf to build a cross-border railway network between the two neighboring countries.

The pair discussed terms of a joint cooperation document for railway connectivity, which aims to provide funding for an economic, social and environmental feasibility study for the project. The planned network will extend from the Egyptian city of Aswan across the southern border to Sudan’s Wadi Halfa in its first phase.

Funding will be organized through cooperation between Egypt, Sudan and the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development.

Al-Wazir signed the document and delivered it to the Sudanese ambassador in Cairo for signing by the country’s transport minister.

The two sides also discussed a number of road projects, including a prospective land road between Egypt and Chad through Sudan. 

The project aims to be a gateway for trade between the two countries, Chad and West Africa. 

The Cairo-Sudan-Cape Town road, which passes through nine African countries, was also mentioned by the ministers. Al-Wazir also said that Egypt is building a Cairo-Arqin road corridor inside its borders, which passes through the governorates of Fayoum, Beni Suef, Minya, Assiut, Sohag, Qena, Luxor and Aswan, and then then extends to the Egyptian border, passing through the Toshka junctions to Arqin, parallel with Sudan.

He added that the new project is important in achieving land connectivity and increasing trade with African countries, as well as serving Egyptian and African citizens, opening new job opportunities and encouraging comprehensive development. The Sudanese side also requested cooperation with Egypt in maritime transport and the training of maritime cadres at the Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport.

Al-Wazir said that Egypt will provide its capabilities to train the workers, whether through the Arab Academy, Egyptian ports or the Egyptian Authority for Maritime Safety.

The two sides also agreed to hold a joint meeting to follow up on the progress of other cooperation projects and to discuss the development of the Nile Valley Authority for River Navigation.

Al-Wazir’s team said that the coming period should include urgent plans to develop the authority, train river workers and provide support through specialized technical cadres.