Iraq decides to accelerate COVID vaccination drive

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Baghdad: The Iraqi government has decided to take a series of measures to accelerate the vaccination campaign to curb the spread of the COVID pandemic.

The decision was made at a cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, which discussed the recommendations of the Iraqi Health Ministry on containing the pandemic in Iraq, al-Kadhimi’s media office said in a statement.

The vaccination, which is expected to cover all workers of shops, restaurants, malls, laboratories and other public facilities, is a prerequisite for renewing or granting health licenses, the statement said, adding that violators will be fined and required to close those facilities after September 1, Xinhua reported.

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It also decided to ban government employees, students and teachers from working unless they bring a vaccination document or a negative PCR test report on a weekly basis, according to the statement.

Starting from October 1, all Iraqis attempting to travel abroad are required to present the international certificate of Covid-19 vaccination or a negative PCR test report, it added.

The Iraqi Health Ministry reported 4,119 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, raising the nationwide caseload to 1,233,240.

The ministry also confirmed 23 new deaths, bringing the death toll from the virus to 16,589, while the total recoveries in Iraq climbed by 4,770 to 1,151,515.

A total of 10,762,364 tests have been carried out in Iraq since the outbreak of the disease in February 2020, with 42,624 done during the day, the ministry said in a statement.

The statement also said 18,353 people were vaccinated against COVID-19 during the past 24 hours across the country, bringing the total number of doses administered to 658,510.

Iraq has been pushing forward its vaccination drive since the drug authority approved in January the emergency use of China’s Sinopharm vaccine and other Covid vaccines.

 Since the early stage of the pandemic in 2020, the Chinese government has sent medical aid to Iraq and donated two shipments of Sinopharm vaccines to the country.