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WHO Official Refutes Claims Iraq is Underreporting Coronavirus Cases

WHO Official Refutes Claims Iraq is Underreporting Coronavirus Cases

Monday, 6 April, 2020 - 07:45
Iraqis use an anti-riot water-cannon vehicle to spray disinfecting liquid in the streets of the center of the southern city of Basra. (AFP)
Baghdad – Fadhel al-Nashmi

The World Health Organization refuted on Sunday a Reuters report that authorities were underreporting coronavirus cases in Iraq.

Reuters claimed last week that Iraq has thousands of confirmed COVID-19 cases, many times more than its official figures. The report sparked outrage in Iraq and Reuters has been banned from operating in the country for three months and was slapped with a fine of 25 million dinars (more than $20,000)

WHO representative in Iraq Adham Ismail said Sunday: “Iraq does not have thousands of cases. If it did and if it were indeed hiding the figures, then our cases would rise to the tens of thousands, similar to what is happening in the United States where more than 300,000 people have been infected.

“Our figures are correct,” he told a press conference in Karbala. “Our figures our not dangerous and they will be confirmed further in a field survey.”

On the Reuters report, Ismail said its claims are based on telephone calls, not evidence and documents. It based it on statements from a medical lab worker who alleged that Iraq was hiding 9,600 test results.

In truth, the lab only tested 6,900 cases, he said, revealing that the health ministry has more detailed data about the patients.

The data is compiled with that of the main test facility before cases are announced, he explained. “Had anything been concealed, we would have announced it. We are keen on transparency.”

Iraq has reported 961 coronavirus cases and 61 deaths.

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