Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi has passed an order for the evacuation of around one thousand Iraqi patients admitted in New Delhi as India contends with a deadly second wave of COVID-19 and a new strain of the virus.
Iraq’s ambassador to India, Falah al-Saadi, informed state media that the first flight will depart on Friday or Saturday, also that some Iraqis in India have passed away from the virus.
“We do not have specific information about Iraqis infected with the Indian strain, but we have recorded six deaths,” he told a news agency.
On Tuesday, Iraq forbade all flights to and from India, leaving thousands of Iraqis stranded in a country that has been devastated by a deadly second wave. India has seen a total of more than 18 million COVID-19 cases, with six million recorded this month alone.
“The situation of the Iraqis stranded here, especially the ill, is tragic,” Muhammad Fadil, a graduate student in the Indian capital told a news agency on Wednesday.
Iraqis stranded in India after seeking medical treatment demanded to be repatriated in an interview with a TV channel. An enormous number of Iraqis travel abroad for medical treatment, including to Jordan, Turkey, and India, due to the dilapidated health system in Iraq.
The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Wednesday that the Indian variant of COVID-19 has been detected in at least 17 countries, including Belgium, Switzerland, Greece, and Italy.