Coronavirus in Syria, alert for the first cases in Idlib: hospital and schools closed

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The coronavirus also arrived in Idlib, a city in north-western Syria, on the Turkish border, tormented by years of civil war and enclave under opposition control, in which 3 million civilians were trapped, most of them without access to water and electricity.

The alarm went off when a 30-year-old doctor from Bab al-Hawa hospital asked to be tested after manifesting the symptoms and tested positive. Another doctor also tested positive as reported by the PA, after coming into contact with a zero patient, probably a third health worker. The doctors were placed in solitary confinement, the hospital where they worked placed in quarantine but the concern is great, especially given the scarcity of health facilities and kits.

Syria has officially registered 372 coronavirus cases, including 14 deaths, since the outbreak of the pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins University. But given the lack of testing, the number of infections and deaths is believed to be higher. As of June 30, only 1,661 swabs have been conducted in northwestern Syria, according to Save the Children. Already in March, the WHO had sent a team to conduct tests in a potentially explosive area: out of three million inhabitants, over a million are piled up in tents and makeshift accommodation, between malnutrition and disease, with a decimated health system, due to years of war and raids conducted by Russian government and allies against what remained the last rebel stronghold. All this while there are 153 lung ventilators available in the region and 148 intensive care units. “According to the WHO preparation and prevention plan, we should have three hospitals dedicated to coronavirus patients and 30 community isolation centers. So far, however, we only have three community isolation centers and one hospital, so we are still very far from implementing the planConfirms Fadi Hakim, director of defense of the Syrian American Medical Association (Sams).

In this picture of uncertainty just yesterday is United Nations authorization allowing cross-border aid to Syria has expired since 2014 without the deeply divided Security Council being able to extend this humanitarian corridor, vital for millions of people. After several votes during which Russia and China twice vetoed, Germany and Belgium made one last attempt to save this device, proposing a new vote over the weekend. The new proposal probably takes account of the conditions imposed by Russia, which had already imposed a sharp reduction on this mechanism in January and which has tried to limit it further.

July 11, 2020 (change July 11, 2020 | 1:40 pm)

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