My fellow citizens,
Today I want to speak to you directly about our response to combatting the coronavirus outbreak.
First, I want to thank you for complying with the public measures and advice in recent weeks put in place for your well-being. Your support and understanding are crucial to containing the spread of the virus.
I also want to thank the ministerial committee tasked with combatting the corona virus and other relevant authorities for their efforts not only to protect citizens, but in addressing the citizens’ everyday supply needs. I also thank the Ministry of Interior, police and security services, and municipal bodies, as well as the Ministry of Health for their continued efforts in the field, day and night, in the service of the citizens. My thanks also go to the medical teams in the frontlines risking their lives for our safety.
It is clear that the Kurdistan Region, alongside the rest of the world, faces an unprecedented threat.
The Kurdistan Regional Government was one of the first in the world to take protective and health measures. We put in place an early emergency budget and immediately took steps to contain and delay the virus as soon as the danger became apparent, for instance by closing schools and universities, and cutting back and in some cases suspending government bodies; restricting border crossing movements; limiting public events and gatherings, and enforcing strict temperature controls at borders and airports. After assessing the situation, we have now restricted movements between provinces in Kurdistan and with the rest of Iraq. We are now at a stage where it is necessary to further restrict movements within cities and towns. The KRG Ministry of Interior has extended the traffic ban inside the cities of Erbil and Sulaymaniyah for 72 hrs, effective from 15th March at midnight.
My fellow citizens,
We will do everything possible for your safety. These measures are in your interests. Restricting movement is for the sake of limiting physical contact and to locate those who are believed to have contracted the virus in order to prevent further spread.
We have an obligation to you, and you have an obligation to yourselves, your family and other citizens. But if we all — as government and citizens – across the Kurdistan Region, help each other and abide by the public advice, we can stop the further spread of this pandemic. The sooner we can do that, the quicker we can restore order.
This pandemic, which has spread to 100 countries globally and has now reached Kurdistan, has already taken a toll. There have been 28 confirmed cases and one citizen has died. I send my condolences to the family and wish the others a speedy recovery.
Unfortunately, I must say that the negative consequences of this pandemic will become apparent in the days to come. But having said that, we can each play a role to significantly reduce the spread of the virus. I urge you to abide by the Ministry of Health advice; continue to wash your hands regularly and reduce your physical contact with others and stay at home as much as possible. If you notice symptoms, call the dedicated emergency helpline on 122 for assistance.
My fellow citizens,
Both the immediate threat to our people’s health, as well as the subsequent risks to our economy, are very real. But we have faced far worse threats in the past, overcoming tyranny and terror, and we have succeeded. I am certain this time too, by helping each other and abiding by the public health advice, we can together get through this difficult chapter.
I also take this opportunity to call on government bodies and property owners to take into consideration this situation and the impact on rent, so we can share the burden together and alleviate the impact.
The Kurdistan Regional Government will continue to work on our response to the coronavirus and its impacts on our economy. We will not hesitate to take decisions necessary for the well-being of the Kurdistani peoples, and I urge all the political parties to rally behind us.
The government bodies will keep you updated at every step in the coming days.
Thank you for your support and steadfastness. I wish you all continued safety and health.
Towards a stronger and prosperous Kurdistan.