October 20, 2021 | healthcare

COVID hospitals beyond capacity in Sulaimani’s Raparin

SULAIMANI, Kurdistan Region - COVID-19 infections have increased in Sulaimani’s Raparin administration, with hospital beds reaching capacity.

According to the Health Directorate, COVID-19 cases have risen in the area by 70% over the past two months, and the situation has seen patients lying on the floors of COVID-19 centers, with some in critical condition being sent to Erbil and Sulaimani.

Ranya has two COVID-19 centers with a capacity of 83 beds, which are currently treating 100 patients. Zhyan Hospital is treating 63 patients, 25 of whom are in critical condition.

On Tuesday, the Minister of Health Saman Barzinji told Rudaw’s Sangar Abdulrahaman that hospitalization has increased in recent weeks. The health minister warned against false propaganda about the vaccine and stressed the importance of getting vaccinated.

“Many people are still unvaccinated. They are not visiting vaccination centers as enthusiastically as they were before. We are seeing a decline in the vaccination rate, caused by false propaganda regarding the adverse effects of the vaccine,” he said.

“More than one million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered. Over 627,000 of these were the first shots. Another 410,000 got the second dose too,” he added.

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)’s target is to vaccinate 3,255,980 people over 18.

According to Barzinji, “13% of the over-18s have received both doses. Twenty-one percent have taken only one dose. Our goal is to increase these percentages by the end of the year.”

The Kurdistan Region has 171 vaccination centers. This week, mobile teams will begin a vaccination campaign across health directorates with the help of the World Health Organisation (WHO), offering the vaccine to more people in marketplaces, universities, schools and malls.

'We have nearly 900,000 doses of the various vaccines, all of them safe and allowed. We receive the Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and SinoPharm vaccines every week,” Barzinji continued, encouraging all those who are offered the vaccine to take it.

In response to the rising cases, Raparin’s General Director of Health, Dyari Ibrahim, has warned that they may have to impose a lockdown, especially now that the new school year has begun.

When discussing the importance of vaccinating teachers, Barzinji told Rudaw that, “We have not yet thought about closing schools, the alternative is vaccination.”

According to the Ministry of Education, there are 120,000 teachers. Over 45,000 of them have received their first shot of the vaccine, and 27,000 have received their second shot. Including other education employees, that number approaches 150,000 - and this does not include staff at universities and colleges.

Barzinji instructed that they should either provide a negative PCR test result every week or get vaccinated. “We've also suggested this to other public and private sector employees.”

On Monday, six people died in Ranya, and 332 people have died in Raparin since the pandemic began.

The number of new cases across the Kurdistan Region has been declining since they peaked in late July, but there are still more than 1,000 new infections daily.

Since the start of the pandemic, the Kurdistan Region has reported a total of 350,987 cases and 6,159 deaths.


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