In Iraq, no resting place for coronavirus dead

first_imgTopics :  ‘Just one dream’ According to the WHO, there are only 14 hospital beds in Iraq for every 10,000 people. By way of comparison, France — currently overwhelmed by the spreading virus — has 60 beds for every 10,000 people. To try to fill the gap, Iraqis are stepping up with inventions of their own.Medical engineer Moqtada al-Zubaidi has created a hospital bed encased in Plexiglas, which includes a respirator with oxygen tanks, an air conditioning unit, a bell to ring nurses and a flat-screen television.”It’s an invention with humanitarian purposes. We proposed the name ‘the bed of life’ because it provides security and reassurance to people who are sick,” he said.Zubaidi is awaiting approval from the health ministry to produce more beds, which cost US$4,000 (3,600 euros) each.But for many fellow Iraqis disheartened by the rising death toll, such measures may be too little, too late. Salem al-Shummary, Malik’s cousin, had tried to help Malik bury his father and was left scarred by the experience.”We’re not fazed by death anymore. We just have one dream: to bury our dead,” he told AFP. Authorities have declared a countrywide lockdown until April 11, urging citizens to stay at home and adopt rigorous hygiene routines to forestall the spread of the virus.  For Saad Malik, losing his father to the novel coronavirus was only the beginning of his nightmare. For over a week, cemeteries across Iraq refused to allow the elderly man’s burial.Fearing the respiratory illness could somehow spread from the corpses to nearby population centers, Iraqi religious authorities, tribes and townspeople have sent the bodies of COVID-19 victims back to hospital morgues, where they are piling up. “We couldn’t hold a funeral for him and haven’t been able to bury his body, even though it’s been more than a week since he died,” Malik told AFP, his voice laced with bitterness.center_img  ‘Where will we put bodies?’ But in some areas, local powers are getting even stricter.Northeast of the capital Baghdad this week, tribal figures prevented a team of health ministry officials from burying four bodies in a cemetery the state had specifically designated for COVID-19 victims. When the delegation tried to take the bodies to another burial ground southeast of Baghdad, dozens of local townspeople turned out in protest.Ultimately, the bodies were returned to the morgue.One Iraqi living near Baghdad told AFP “we decided to block any burials in our area.””We panicked over [the health of] our children and families.” According to the World Health Organization (WHO), which is leading the global response to the pandemic, coronavirus is transmitted through droplets and surface contact. There is no scientific evidence yet that it could spread via corpses, according to Iraqi health ministry spokesman Seif al-Badr.He said the government was taking all possible precautions when burying bodies, including wrapping them in bags, disinfecting them and placing them in special coffins. Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the country’s top Shiite cleric, has said those who lost their lives to the disease must be wrapped in three shrouds and insisted authorities facilitate burials.But rejections of burials have continued, including in the two shrine cities of Karbala and Najaf, where one of the world’s largest cemeteries is located. An Iraqi medic in Najaf told AFP the health ministry had tried to intervene directly to convince Najaf authorities to allow burials of COVID-19 victims, to no avail.The medic, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he had witnessed one widower beg authorities to release his wife’s body.”Just give me the body and I’ll bury her in my own home,” the heartbroken husband had said. “This is the situation after just 40 deaths. What happens if it gets worse? Where will we put the bodies?” the medic asked. Many in Iraq have been bracing themselves for a rise in cases in the weeks ahead, but the country’s hospitals are ill-prepared to deal with large numbers.They have been ravaged by decades of conflict and have received little investment in recent years, leaving them woefully bereft of medicine and equipment.Doctors, too, have been threatened, kidnapped and even killed in recent years over ransoms or under pressure from relatives of patients.  Armed men claiming to be tribal leaders threatened Malik, his family and his friends, saying they would set fire to his car if they tried to bury the body in their area. “Can you imagine that across this huge country Iraq, there aren’t a few square meters to bury a small number of bodies?”In Islam, a person must be buried as soon as possible after death, usually within 24 hours. Cremation is strictly prohibited. Iraq has confirmed more than 500 COVID-19 cases and 42 deaths from the respiratory disease, but the real numbers are likely much higher as few of the country’s 40 million people have been tested.last_img read more

No panic for McDowell

first_imgFormer US Open champion Graeme McDowell will avoid reaching for the panic button when he competes in this week’s Alstom Open de France. McDowell did win the Volvo World Match Play crown in Bulgari, but his missed cut in last week’s Irish Open was the fifth in his last six strokeplay events and left him spending the weekend at Carton House on the practice range, alongside compatriot Rory McIlroy, looking for some form ahead of the upcoming Open Championship. “Obviously that Volvo World Match Play offsets some really average golf for me I suppose,” McDowell admitted in his pre-tournament press conference at Le Golf National. “I feel like I went into the US Open a bit under golfed to be honest with you; (with) a few missed cuts here and there and playing a slightly reduced schedule this year.” Press Associationcenter_img He added: “I really just haven’t had enough course time the last couple of months and that was highlighted at the US Open – he shot rounds of 76 and 77 at Merion – and it was highlighted a little bit last week in Ireland, missing by one there. “I thought I had snuck in for the weekend and I could have done with a couple of extra rounds of golf under my belt, but used the weekend constructively, hit a lot of balls. “I feel like, thankfully, I’ve got a couple of victories under the belt this year to offset maybe the panic button being hit. It is a good thing to be coming into this run of golf fresh I suppose, I’ve got a lot of golf coming up here the next few months. “The game’s not in terrible shape to be honest with you. It’s been a fine line here and there. The motivation’s there and I’m feeling hungry and ready to go this summer. “I’ve worked very hard the last 10 days or so and I’ve probably hit as many balls in the last 10 days as I have in a couple of months really. I could do with a weekend here where I compete and play four rounds, get the old juices flowing.” McDowell is one of three players in the world’s top 10 competing in Paris, the world number nine being joined by eighth ranked Luke Donald and number five Matt Kuchar. last_img read more

Timeout usage leaves Badgers short on time in 2nd half

first_imgPASADENA, Calif. – Once again, the Wisconsin Badgers took a game of great magnitude down to the very last second.This time, however, time passed by a little too quickly for an offense forced to overcome a seven-point deficit more than halfway through the fourth quarter. Consequently, the No. 5 Oregon Ducks (12-2, 8-1 Pac-12) were able to outlast the No. 10 Badgers (11-3, 6-2 Big Ten) in the 98th Rose Bowl Game Monday afternoon.After two exceedingly confusing plays early in the second half, the Badgers were left with just one timeout for the final 25:50 of the game. The result was a final drive that had Wisconsin scrambling to cover 87 yards with just 16 seconds remaining. Though two long passes from quarterback Russell Wilson brought the Badgers 62 yards downfield, the clock expired before a third play – and a pass into the end zone – could be attempted.After running back Montee Ball rushed for 13 yards on a 3rd-and-1 from Oregon’s 27-yard line early in the third quarter, head coach Bret Bielema sprinted over to the referee on his sideline to call a timeout as the Badgers were lining up for the next play. 12:18 remained in the quarter, and with Wisconsin already trailing 35-28 against an Oregon team that had gained 341 yards on just 29 first-half plays, the early loss of a timeout was puzzling.Ball did hurdle a defender at the end of his run and appeared to catch a helmet to the groin, though he showed barely any sign of injury after being tackled by a crowd of Oregon players. After the game, Bielema said the Badgers lined up in a “busted formation” on the play and he wanted to make sure they were not flagged for a 5-yard penalty.“It was basically, for lack of a better term, the wide receiver was on the side opposite of what we had lined up,” Bielema said.On the field, however, the situation wasn’t as clear for Wisconsin’s players.“I’m not exactly sure,” left guard Travis Frederick said. “I was in there, they called a timeout. I just do what they tell me to do.”After the timeout, Ball rushed for another two yards to the Ducks’ 12-yard line. After a rush for no gain and an incomplete pass, Wisconsin was forced to kick a 29-yard field goal, bringing the score to 35-31 in favor of Oregon.On the ensuing kickoff, Oregon returner De’Anthony Thomas caught the football and took a knee in the endzone. Referees called the play a touchback and advanced the ball to the Ducks’ 20-yard line, though the Badgers’ sideline insisted the play should be ruled down at the one-yard line because it appeared Thomas stepped out of the endzone before taking the knee.Bielema wanted the play to be reviewed, though after huddling with officials, none was given. The referees also declined to announce any sort of explanation, instead whistling ahead the start of the play.“I saw the return man put his foot on the line and it looked like the ball was out over the line,” Bielema said. “I was trying to ask the official on my sideline if I could challenge him not getting across the line and he looked at me like I had three heads. They couldn’t get the answer, so they called a timeout and then they actually came back to me and said because they couldn’t give me the information in an adequate amount of time, they weren’t going to use that as a I challenge, they were going to use it as a timeout.”Wisconsin’s defense ultimately held Oregon to a three-and-out, and the Badgers scored a touchdown on an 18-yard pass from Wilson to wide receiver Nick Toon after a 9-play, 62-yard drive. The play put the Badgers ahead 38-35, and that score held through the end of the third quarter.However, Wisconsin entered the fourth quarter with just one timeout. Oregon’s defense, which had surrendered 399 yards in the first three quarters, stiffened to allow Wisconsin just 109 in the final quarter. The Ducks were able to muster 10 points of their own, taking a 45-38 lead an 11-yard pass from quarterback Darron Thomas to wide receiver Lavasier Tuinei at the 14:35 mark.Following a three-and-out by the Badgers’ offense, the Ducks were able to grind the clock away with a 12-play, 76-yard drive that consumed 5:54. Kicker Alejandro Maldonado’s 30-yard field goal left Wisconsin 6:50 to score seven points, but again, with just one timeout.“When you’re presented with an opportunity and you’re right there, you’re so close, for the second year in a row to be at The Granddaddy of Them All and to lose, it’s heartbreaking, man,” safety Aaron Henry said. “A lot of people may say it’s just a game, it’s just a game, it’s just a game; but when you put all you have into the game, it hurts. When you invest time in something, whether it’s a relationship or a family member, … and you lose it, it’s painful.”last_img read more