Coronavirus: South of Kurdistan Upbeat While UK Scrambles to Respond

By Arian Mufid:

When I look at the latest coronavirus statistics in the south of Kurdistan, I cannot help but feel proud. Since the 11th of March 2020 the whole region of KRG (Kurdistan Regional Government) is locked down and people only go to the local mini-market to get their basic food. KRG are banning and restricting movement between the towns and cities of the south of Kurdistan. Schools, universities and shopping centers are all closed. Up till now, there are a few known cases of not more than 38, and only one death. The long borders with Iran have been monitored by security forces, and the checkpoints with Iraq are screening people more than ever before. The original curfew was for 72 hours but it has been extended and people are responding well to government guidelines. The South of Kurdistan proved that if they have the will, they can prioritise and mobilise resources in combating this epidemic. Mobile hospitals in the cities of Suli and Hawler have been set up and mass testing and screening are in place. In Sulaymani and Erbil international airports, there is screening and regular testing.

However, the UK, as the world’s fifth largest economy and the second biggest in Europe, has scrambled to respond to this epidemic, with around 2000 officially infected and to date more than 71 deaths as a result. The approach of the Conservative Government is the most inhuman one. The UK prime minister has come to press conferences and told people that ‘your loved ones will die at the result of this deadly virus’. It is not human to tell people that elderly people are expendable in some experiment in ‘herd immunity’. To date restaurants, cafés and fitness centres are open and the government has not used its mandate to enact closures and the lock-down of the public. The UK has failed to take into account the Asian lessons in virus control such as in Taiwan, Singapore and Japan. The UK has failed to learn from the catastrophe in Italy. The more you learn about the UK resources available for combating this epidemic, the scarier this aspect is.

The UK needs a robust response and should listen to all the research centres involved with this epidemic. The UK government should use its mandate to deal formally with this global issue, not just telling people to not attend pubs, restaurants and public gatherings.

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