Iraq has confirmed thousands more COVID-19 cases than reported, medics say

first_imgThe new coronavirus has hit Iraq’s neighbor Iran worse than any country in the region. Iraq has close trade and religious ties with Iran and a large border, which Iraq shut in February over fears of the spread of the infection.Iraq’s healthcare system, among other infrastructure, has been stretched by decades of sanctions, war and neglect, one among several problems that spurred mass anti-government protests in recent months.Pilgrims Governments across the world have struggled to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. The United States, Italy and Spain are the countries worst hit by the disease, which has infected nearly a million people worldwide and killed nearly 47,000.The three Iraqi doctors and the political official said national security officials have attended health ministry meetings and urged authorities not to reveal the high figures because it could create public disorder with a rush on medical supplies, and make it harder to control the disease’s spread.The health ministry did not immediately reply to a request for comment on any such discussions.One of the doctors said the death toll was also likely higher than the official toll, but not by much. “On Saturday last week alone, about 50 people were buried who died from the disease,” he said. At that time the official death toll was 42.Testing facilities are limited and Iraq has publicly acknowledged that the actual number of cases must be higher than the number of confirmed cases.Many doctors blame the accelerating spread of the disease on people refusing to be tested or isolated and on the flouting of a nationwide curfew, including by thousands of pilgrims who flocked to a Shi’ite Muslim shrine in Baghdad last month.The three doctors and the health official said many new cases were from eastern Baghdad where those pilgrims live.Separately, some Shi’ite pilgrims returning to Iraq from Syria have tested positive for coronavirus, a senior Iraqi official and health officials said on Sunday. The ministry said in its latest daily statement on Thursday that the total recorded confirmed cases for Iraq were 772, with 54 deaths.But the three doctors, who work in pharmaceutical teams helping test suspected COVID-19 cases in Baghdad, each said that confirmed cases of the disease, based on discussions among fellow medics who see daily results, were between about 3,000 and 9,000 although they each gave different estimates.The health ministry official, who also works in testing for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, said that there were more than 2,000 confirmed cases from eastern Baghdad alone, not counting the number in other areas or provinces.The political official, who has attended meetings with the health ministry, also said thousands of cases were confirmed. Iraq has thousands of confirmed COVID-19 cases, many times more than the 772 it is has publicly reported, according to three doctors closely involved in the testing process, a health ministry official and a senior political official.The sources all spoke on condition of anonymity. Iraqi authorities have instructed medical staff not to speak to media.Iraq’s health ministry, the only official outlet for information on the COVID-19 disease, could not immediately be reached for comment. Reuters sent voice and written messages asking its spokesman if the actual number of confirmed cases was higher than the ministry had reported and if so why.center_img Topics :last_img read more

Panelists connect religion to nature in discussion

first_imgThe USC Environmental Student Assembly hosted an event last night called “Sacred Earth,” which analyzed ways in which religion and environment are intertwined and how religion can help solve climate change.Lena Altaffer | Daily TrojanEnvironmental importance · Jeremy Kagan, a professor at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, spoke about the sanctity of life in the Jewish faith.The panel included Victoria Petryshyn, a lecturer in geobiology at USC; Ignacio Castuera, a United Methodist minister; Jeremy Kagan, a professor at the USC School of Cinematic Arts; Asma Mahdi, communications and public relations manager at the UCLA Sustainable LA Grand Challenge; and Mugdha Yeolekar, Postdoctoral Faculty Fellow in Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount University. The panel consisted of experts on climate change and the Catholic, Jewish, Muslim and Hindu faiths. Those who represented their faiths gave tangible examples of how their religion has advocated for the protection of the environment.According to Yeolekar, for those who follow Hinduism, all natural things are sacred and there is a connection between nature and a higher power. Yeolekar quoted a passage from a Hindu religious text, in saying that “one tree is equal to 10 suns,” illustrating the value placed on life and the importance of non-violence toward all living creatures. This value stems from the fact that the environment and humans share the same space on Earth.“We are sharing the environment in a participatory model of religion,” Yeolekar said.There are many historical examples in which the value of the Earth has prompted Hindus to act for the good of the environment, Yeolekar said.In Hindu culture, whenever food is received, it is a gift from a higher power that should be repaid, often by planting saplings. For example, in the 1980s, Hindus started a movement to hug trees to prevent them from being cut down, calling them their “children.”The Torah, the central text in Judaism, advocates for much of the same divine relationship between humans and their environment as in Hinduism. Kagan said that in Judaism all things are held sacred, and thus everything on the Earth should be protected by humans.“If you do harm to the Earth, you are doing harm to the God that created you and Earth,” Kagan said. “Everything here, including your life, is alone from God and you are responsible to be a shepherd.”Even though the Torah advocates respecting the environment and participating in rituals that close the gap between humans and nature, Kagan said the majority of Jews do not practice those principles.Castuera, who represented the Catholic faith, admitted that Catholic leaders and institutions have historically been the biggest culprits of environmental degradation and the exploitation of indigenous people.“We had the false sense that the Earth was going to be there forever and we can exploit it,” Castuera said. “Historically, Christianity has been the creator of the image that we can keep on exploiting this earth.”Even with the negative images associated with Catholic institutions, Castuera believes that there is progress to be made, and that the current dialogue by Pope Francis and similar religious leaders are helping to set the church back in the right direction.“The element of tenderness is vital and it’s essential,” Castuera said. “The present Pope picks up also that element of tenderness.”Mahdi says that there are 750 verses in the Quran that reference nature. In most cases, it tells readers that it is our shared responsibility to return the environment to its purest possible form.But for Mahdi, the power of Muslims to effect change comes primarily in their numbers, and not the scripture. There are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, which Mahdi is an important start. She believes that unity can help bring together comprehensive climate reform.“We transcend every race, language and country,” Mahdi said.That climate reform is important, as Petryshyn argued, while showing scientific evidence pointing to the dangers of climate change. She said rising carbon dioxide levels and resultant temperature increase is a cause for worry, but agreements like the 2015 Paris Climate Conference put humanity on the right track.last_img read more