Anyone unable to work at home is coming to work every other day. Amal Ibrahim, a mother of four, has been working at home for a week. Her situation is the same as mothers in Germany. Her youngest 11-year-old daughter thinks it's great that her Mum is at home and asks every five minutes if she has time or whether she can explain something to her. So, very little chance of Amal getting any proper work done.

Corona crisis an excuse for repression

On the other hand, an increasing number of people don't believe what their government is telling them. They perceive the scenario as just another way for leaders to repress the people and deprive them of their liberties. Twelve years ago, when the government imposed a curfew lasting months during the civil war, the threat was visible. Bombs were going off, explosives were an omnipresent threat, there were corpses on the pavements. Now, the danger is invisible.

Besides, demonstrators are dying almost every day, shot by Shia militias on Tahrir Square; protesters are being kidnapped and detained for days and even tortured to extract confessions and information. "This makes it difficult to accept that now we're being told to stay at home because of a virus," says Maha, speaking from a protest tent on Baghdad's Tahrir Square. "It's just a way for them to wipe us out."

Democracy activists on Tahrir Square in Baghdad (photo: Reuters)
"They're just trying to exterminate us": the spread of coronavirus in Iraq is proving a severe blow to the Tahrir Square democracy movement in Baghdad as the government continues to drastically restrict freedom of assembly. According to the Ministry of Health, the number of people infected is almost 200. However, the actual number is likely to be much higher

Iraq has taken drastic measures to prevent the further spread of the virus, although the health ministry in Baghdad claims the official number of infections is less than 200. But the actual number is likely to be considerably higher. The death rate appears more accurate: 20 people have already died of Covid-19. That figure is high relative to infections.


Incapable of effectively combatting the virus


Iraqi Health Minister Jaafar Allawi admits that the nation is not in a position to cope with the new epidemic. If the virus spreads as it has done in other nations, "we don't have the capacity to fight it. We don't have any treatment capabilities," he said. The government has been asked to provide five million U.S. dollars to facilitate counter-measures to combat the coronavirus, but to date no additional funds have been made available.

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