Almost 2,000 children under-10 across the country have been infected in just two weeks.
A rising number of infants and children in Iraq are reported to have been infected by COVID-19 without access to care, as the variant that was first discovered in the UK is wreaking havoc in the country, with reports of children dying.
According to Iraq’s Ministry of Health, thousands of cases have been recorded among children since the discovery of the variant in Iraq was officially announced on 15 February. The number of children under 10 who were diagnosed jumped from 11,699 cases as of 11 March to 13,546 cases on 24 March, an increase of 15.7% in just two weeks.
Although there is no definitive answer yet, scientists earlier suggested that the new variant is transmitting across all ages, including children. Earlier in February, the ministry said the variant accounts for 50% of all new COVID-19 cases.
Doctors have seen an increase in children being hospitalised with COVID-19. But they fear it’s only the tip of the iceberg, as many cases are not taken to hospitals or are only diagnosed in clinics and pharmacies, where they are not officially recorded.
We have seen children as young as 10 admitted to hospital and there is a higher percentage of children with the virus in primary health care centres and paediatric hospitals than before. We worry that many children will catch the virus without having access to proper testing or isolation, which risks them spreading among their friends and older family members.
Overcrowded schools are also likely to lead to a high risk of infections among children.
SEMA US is calling for urgent support to step up access to medical care and protective equipment, provide disinfection and sanitation kits to schools and enforce social distancing and mask-wearing rules.
Since the beginning of the pandemic in Iraq, SEMA US has been raising awareness in communities, schools and among children on the virus and ways of prevention, running awareness-raising sessions on social distance and the importance of wearing masks.