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Medical authorities take limited procedures against COVID-19 in Idlib as no cases have been registered so far

Editing: Mohamad Alaa |
TranslationEditor: Glory Jabr |
Translation: Muhammad Ghaith

Idlib - SMART

SARS-CoV-2 that causes coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread worldwide, as great countries failed to stop the pandemic that infected even leaders, in a time, statements warn of a disaster in the Idlib governorate, Northern Syria, where four million people live, mostly displaced, according to the Response Coordinators Team.

These warnings remain on paper as some countries started operations, described by activists as “piracy,” against medical shipments and precaution medicine, so wonder arises how will these countries send aid to those people who are considered the most vulnerable to COVID-19 if it spreads in Idlib, though no case has been registered so far.  

Who runs medical affairs in Idlib?

The Idlib governorate and parts of the western Aleppo countryside are controlled by the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), hence the HTS- affiliated Salvation Government runs these areas. Therefore, support has been cut in different sectors, including health sector. Cutting support forced the Idlib Health Directorate to announce independence from any political or military side in Syria, which allowed resuming support of hospitals and medical organizations in Idlib.

A medical source reported to SMART that the Idlib Health Directorate runs the medical sector in the governorate. The source added that the directorate coordinates with the Syrian Interim Government of the Syrian National Coalition and the Salvation Government. 

The source said that hospitals coordinate with the Health Directorate as an official side and implement directions issued by the directorate. 

The source noted that the staff of the hospitals prefer that the directorate remains independent.   

No cases of COVID-19 have been registered in Idlib so far:

A medical source reported to SMART that no cases of COVID-19 have been registered in Idlib so far.

The Epidemical Surveillance Laboratory in Idlib conducted tests for 81 suspected cases. The results were negative, according to the source. 

The source noted that the tests included people who died, and the results were negative, as reasons of the deaths were attributed to other diseases.

There is only one Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) in Idlib. The PCR is the only one that is able to detect COVID-19 so far. The World Health Organization did not provide the Epidemical Surveillance Laboratory in Idlib with kits; however, the Syrian National Coalition’s Assistance Coordinating Unit provided the laboratory with three kits that are enough for 300 tests. 

What are preparings if COVID-19 spreads?

A medical source reported to SMART that preparings if COVID-19 spreads in Idlib are limited to the opening of three quarantine locations in HTS-controlled areas. 

The source added that three quarantine locations were opened in Salqin, Idlib, and the city of Darat Izza in the western Aleppo countryside, to receive confirmed cases of COVID-19.

The source noted that the HTS seized a three-storey-building near the village of al-Durya in Nahiyat Darkush in Idlib, and turned it into a center for suspected cases of COVID-19 before checking them in the laboratory. 

How many people are suspected to be infected with COVID-19, and where do they come from?

A source that is well informed of the majority of tests in Idlib reported to SMART that there are six people suspected to be infected with COVID-19. 

The source added that a doctor diagnosed the medical state of the suspected people after he tested 60 others whom the HTS put in the building near al-Durya.

The source added that the HTS detained the 60 people after they entered Syria illegally through Turkey. Turkey closed border crossings with Syria as a precautionary procedure against COVID-19. 

The HTS tightens precautionary procedures, as the doctor ordered putting the six people in quarantine until results are issued. The other people were asked to stay home for 15 days; however, the HTS informed medical authorities that it insists on putting the people in quarantine in the building for a month fearing from the spread of COVID-19 in Idlib. 

When asked about the way the suspected people were transferred to the laboratory in Idlib, the source said that the Violet Organization provided cars to transport the people to avoid the spread of COVID-19 if the cases are confirmed. 

Organizations launch campaigns to warn of COVID-19:

Organizations launched campaigns to warn of COVID-19 and guide people how to protect themselves. 

A medical source reported to SMART that organizations held training courses for social service committees made up of nurses practitioners, who have no certificates in nursing from universities or institutes, and psychological support workers. The organizations distributed the nurses and workers to areas and camps in Idlib to raise people’s awareness.

The campaigns include the ways to contact the Violet Organization and dispensaries to report any suspected case of COVID-19.

The source noted that the Faculty of Medicine of the Free Aleppo University held a course about COVID-19 for 110 students of the fifth year. The students received questionnaire papers and brochures about COVID-19 to tour camps to raise people’s awareness.

On Dec. 31, 2019, the novel coronavirus COVID-19 spread in the Chinese city of Wuhan. The virus has infected about 1,850,000 people until April 12, 2020 in more than 210 countries, about 115,000 of them died;however, 390,000 people recovered, according to the (Worldometer).

COVID-19 is an infectious disease, caused by SARS-CoV-2, that spreads from person-to-person and by respiratory droplets. These droplets fall on surrounding surfaces, so other people could be infected when they touch these surfaces by touching their eyes, noses, or mouths. People could be infected if they inhale droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes, so it is important to keep a one-meter distance (three feet) away from infected people.

Infection symptoms include body aches, blocked nose, sore throat, cough, and fever. The symptoms begin as mild and develop gradually. Some people become infected without showing any symptoms and without feeling ill. About 80% of infected people recover from the disease without any special treatment.