Iraq’s health minister said Wednesday that hundreds of children have contracted a new variant of the coronavirus.

“More than 300 children under the age of 14 years have been infected with the new strain since its emergence,” Hassan Al-Tamimi said at a news conference in Baghdad. He said the spread of the virus also continues among the general population.

The oil-rich country confirmed Feb. 15 its first case of the new strain of coronavirus.

At the time, the al-Tamimi warned that the strain could also infect children.

He expressed concern that the “ferocity” of the strain may burden the ministry’s capabilities to handle the virus.

Al-Tamimi said Tuesday that the rate of daily fatalities is 1.9% and that “specialized laboratories [to test the virus] have been increased” while also increasing the number of hospitals, beds and medical devices.

The number of infections in Iraq stood Wednesday at 680,288, including 13,324 fatalities, according to the Ministry of Health.

The government declared a two-week partial curfew across the country last week except the Kurdish region to contain a sudden surge in infections.

The measures include suspending school attendance, sports activities and the closure of mosques and parks.

The restrictions are scheduled to be lifted March 4, amid reports that the precautionary measures may be extended.

*Ibrahim Mukhtar in Ankara contributed to this report

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