Baghdad, 22 March 2020 - The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert joined the Iraqi Ministry of Health today in calling on Iraqis across the country to follow the instructions and advice from health, religious, civilian and security authorities to practice social distancing and strict hygiene in order to protect their families and communities from the spread of the Coronavirus.
“I am here to emphasize our support to their efforts, as well as to the endless efforts of the medical professionals. They are the unsung heroes in the fight against the coronavirus”, the Special Representative said after meeting with the Iraqi Minister of Health, Jaafar Allawi. “COVID-19 is an unprecedented challenge which should be taken extremely seriously. And there is no time to waste”.
Communities play a critical role in spreading a virus, but also in stopping it. Proper hygiene, in particular washing hands on a regular basis, social distancing and limiting contacts. All this can stop the virus from spreading rapidly.
The Special Representative said she is encouraged by the wide-ranging actions taken in Iraq, including in the Kurdistan Region.
“We should not panic. But to avoid panic, we cannot afford to be complacent. In recent days we noted that some people are unnecessarily breaking the curfew, or not fully abiding by the instructions. To those, I would like to say: you are endangering yourselves, your families, your loved ones and the community at large.”
Public health is the number one priority. And all of us are in this together. All nations, all people. She added that quarantine, self-isolation and social distancing are nothing to be ashamed of. This is happening all over the world.
“Mass gatherings should not take place, and this includes sports, cultural events and religious gatherings. And I would like to underline our appreciation for the calls from all religious authorities to follow the instructions and guidance, to stay home and to stay safe.”