Iraq hospitals 'breeding' coronavirus amid growing health worker infections

Hundreds of doctors infected as coronavirus spreads among Iraq's healthcare workers
2 min read
20 June, 2020
Doctors in Iraq are contracting Covid-19 in the hundreds, reports suggest, as the country battles the infection.
Iraqi doctors and Covid-19 [Getty]
Iraqi doctors on the frontlines are battling coronavirus among the population – and within their own ranks – as a rise of infections is making hundreds of healthcare workers ill.

Medical staff who develop symptoms are tested and then told to go back to work while they wait for test results.

This potentially puts yet more people at risk, endangering other medical staff and patients, hospital staff told The Washington Post.

In laboratories where coronavirus tests are run, staff members are also falling ill.

“Our hospitals are meant to treat people. Instead, they’re breeding the infection,” said Abdulameer Mohsin Hussein, president of the Iraqi Medical Association, an independent body.

The total number of doctors with reported infections spiked 83 percent since the middle of last week, bringing the total to 592 since the outbreak began in Iraq in March, according to the association.

Estimates put the number of infected paramedics even higher.

Iraq’s health ministry said on Friday that it had recorded a total of 27,352 cases, with 925 deaths.

Of the doctors who have contracted Covid-19, most live in the capital of Baghdad.

“These doctors shared lounges. They shared rooms for sleeping. In the coming weeks, we’ll see the impact of that,” Hussein said.

A doctor named Yasser told the Post he was one of the first medical professionals in Iraq to contract coronavirus, and he took time off from work at a hospital in Sadr City to recover.
“But now it’s all wrong,” he said.

“My doctor friends who get it now wait 10 days for test results, even though they know they have it.

"The management doesn’t care about our safety, they just care that the staff is working.”

Iraq’s health ministry has not publicly disclosed the number of medical staff that have fallen ill, however it announced that Haider Hashim al-Maksusi, a nurse working in a Baghdad hospital complex, died of Covid-19.

“We’re fighting a war with faulty weapons,” said Ibrahim, a doctor in Baghdad’s Hussainiya hospital. He also spoke on the condition that his family name be withheld.

“I dreamed all my life of being a doctor. I regret that now.”

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