War-torn Syria faces severe COVID-19 threat

Issue 
The Autonomous Administration of Northern and Eastern Syria has difficulty getting medical supplies to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo: Kurdishstruggle/flickr

War-torn Syria faces the danger of a potentially very severe COVID-19 crisis. The Bashar al-Assad regime has reported only a few cases, but it is likely that its figures underestimate the problem. 

Assad receives military aid from Iran, which is being severely affected by the new coronavirus. It is highly probable that Iranian personnel have brought the infection to Syria. 

Turkey, which has invaded large parts of northern Syria, is also facing a serious COVID-19 outbreak that has resulted in hundreds of deaths. Turkish troops and their Syrian proxies have almost certainly brought the disease into the parts of Syria they control.

The Syrian medical system has been disrupted by the years-long war in which hospitals have been bombed, mainly by the Syrian and Russian air forces, but also by Turkish invaders.

The areas under the control of the Autonomous Administration of Northern and Eastern Syria (NES) have a particular problem due to their inability to get medical supplies. 

These areas are blockaded by Turkey and the Assad regime. The United Nations has stopped giving any aid to the people there.

As of April 5, there were 7 suspected cases of COVID-19 in NES, but since there are no testing facilities these could not be confirmed.

Nine out of 11 hospitals in the region have been damaged by war. There are only 40 ventilators and 35 ICU beds. Medicines are in short supply.

These extreme shortages suggest the United States has given little to no medical aid, despite cooperating with NES forces against ISIS.

The people have been trying to fill these gaps. Doctors have come up with their own test kits, while engineers and technicians have developed a locally made ventilator.

Turkey has been intermittently cutting off the supply of water from the Allouk water station, upon which about a million people in the area depend. The NES has used trucks to deliver water, but this is insufficient.

The NES has closed schools and imposed curfews in an effort to stop the spread of the virus.

[For more information on the situation in the NES-controlled region visit ANF News.]

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