Syrians rush to stock up as the country reports its first Coronavirus positive case

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Syria reported its first Coronavirus positive case, putting a lot of pressure on the healthcare system, which is already affected due to a decade of civil war. Syrians rushed to stock up on food and fuel as the authorities in the war-torn country are expected to resort to stricter measures amid fears of a pandemic.

As per the World Health Organization, testing for the novel COVID-19 would begin within a few days in northwest Syria, to avert the deadly virus from reaching the overcrowded displacement camps.

Testing should start shortly after some 300 COVID-19 diagnostic kits would be made available to a laboratory in Idlib city, says WHO spokesman Hedinn Halldorsson. Furthermore, additional 2,000 tests would also be conducted as soon as possible, he added. Even though 3 suspected cases have tested negative, WHO is extremely concerned about the impact due to the virus as displaced people live under conditions that make them highly vulnerable to respiratory infections.

To ensure better facilities and avert the spread of coronavirus in the region, three hospitals with intensive care units have been modified as isolation units equipped with ventilators, the WHO spokesman said. Alongside this, about 10,000 surgical masks and 500 respirator masks, should arrive within the week.

Can Damascus tackle this virus war?

The moment the Damascus government announced the country’s first official case of the novel coronavirus, lines were formed outside grocery stores, banks and petrol stations. As a wider response plan, the government has already halted public transportation and closed down restaurants and cafes.

Authorities have closed border with Lebanon and Jordan and now the newspapers would only be available online. Though Syria has been ravaged by nearly a decade of war, COVID-19 can inflict more damage, if not controlled properly. It puts a lot of pressure on the country’s healthcare system and WHO needs to play an essential part in this virus war.

Last modified: March 30, 2020

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