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The New Arab Staff

Qatar set ups field hospitals to treat Iraq's coronavirus patients

More than 4,000 people have died of Covid-19 in Iraq [Getty]

Date of publication: 25 July, 2020

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Qatar has sent two field hospitals, including medical supplies and 250 beds, to help Iraq in its ongoing battle with Covid-19.
Two Qatari field hospitals with a capacity of 250 beds have been set up in Iraq to help the country commit the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, the health ministry said on Friday.

One of the hospitals was installed in Dhi Qar governorate in the south of the country while the other will provide medical assistance to the Anbar governate in the west, the ministry said.

The comments were made after two Qatari planes, led by the Gulf state’s ambassador to Iraq, landed in Baghdad on Thursday evening.

"The two hospitals have a capacity of 250 beds, in support of the State of Qatar in the framework of joint health cooperation between the two countries to strengthen efforts to combat the Corona pandemic," Iraq's Deputy Minister of Health Hazem Al-Jumail said, according to a statement.

The news was also confirmed by a spokesman for the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ahmed Al-Sahaf, who said the Qatari assistance includes various medical supplies, air conditioners, beds and generators to help tackle the coronavirus.

"This comes in the context of deep brotherly relations that bind the two countries, and fraternal positions that are practically evident on the ground in times of adversity,” Sahaf added.

An official at the Iraqi ministry of health told The New Arab's Arabic-language service that the arrival of field hospitals from Qatar to Dhi Qar Anbar will contribute to the search for solutions amid the worsening Covid-19 crisis in Iraq, especially in Dhi Qar Governorate, which has witnessed a significant increase in the number of cases.

According to official statistics, Iraq has recorded more than 102,226 coronavirus cases across the country, where 4,122 have died from the infection.

The pandemic has overwhelmed Iraqi hospitals, already strained by decades of back-to-back conflicts and poor investment.

It has also crippled Iraq's modest private sector while oil sales - which the government relies on for more than 90 percent of its state revenues - were hit hard by the collapse in crude prices.

On Thursday, Iraq reopened to commercial flights after four months of lockdown to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus, which brought the country's fragile economy to its knees.

Airports in the cities of Najaf and Basra south of the capital also reopened on Thursday, but those in Arbil and Sulaimaniyah, in the northern Kurdish region, said they would reopen on August 1.

Iraqi authorities lifted other restrictions earlier this month, allowing malls and shops to reopen and delaying the start of overnight curfews to 9:30 pm (1830 GMT).

Read more: The Iraq Report: Coronavirus worsens as Baghdad continues to grapple with lawless Iran-backed militias 

Restaurants and coffee shops remain closed to customers but are allowed to fulfil takeaway or delivery orders.

A full lockdown will be briefly reimposed at the end of July for the Eid al-Adha Muslim holiday before being entirely lifted.

Some medics fear a return to normal life is premature as the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases continues to rise, reaching nearly 100,000 with more than 4,000 deaths.

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