The US Embassy in Baghdad announced today that is providing $670,000 to help Iraq fight the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“Today’s announcement shows the strength of the US and Iraqi partnership, and we are committed to fighting this pandemic alongside the Iraqi people,” said US Ambassador to Iraq Matthew Tueller. “Support provided through the [World Health Organization] will directly enhance the country’s ability to combat the spread of COVID-19.”
Why it matters: Iraq has confirmed at least 266 coronavirus cases throughout the country and 23 deaths. It instated a country-wide lockdown through Saturday.
The embassy statement noted that US funds going to the World Health Organization “will help the governments of currently affected or at-risk developing countries prepare their laboratories for large-scale testing for COVID-19; implement a public-health emergency plan for points of entry; activate case-finding and event-based surveillance for influenza-like illnesses; train and equip rapid response teams; investigate cases and trace the contacts of infected persons; and adapt training materials for health workers.”
What’s next: The coronavirus pandemic has already impacted the US-led coalition against the Islamic State. The Pentagon announced last week that “ the Iraqi Security Forces have suspended all training” with US forces to curb the spread of the pandemic, leading to a partial drawdown of coalition troops. Still, the US-led coalition hopes to resume the training “as the situation permits.”
Know more: Hassan Ali Ahmed reports on how Iraq’s clerical establishment is bolstering the Iraqi government’s efforts to fight COVID-19 with a series of fatwas to encourage social distancing. And read congressional correspondent Bryant Harris’ report on how the coronavirus has led to “temporary adjustments” in the fight against the Islamic State.