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COVID-19 tests in Damascus are inaccurate; Syrian Interim Government says that medical centers are unable to face COVID-19 in Northern Syria

Editing: Jaffar Al-aga |
TranslationEditor: Glory Jabr |
Translation: Muhammad Ghaith

Syria - SMART

Medical sources in the city of Latakia, Western Syria, doubt the validity of tests' results sent from Damascus for people suspected to be infected with coronavirus (COVID-19). The Syrian Interim Government’s Health Ministry emphasized that medical centers in Northern Syria are too poor to face the pandemic, as deaths continue to increase in Syria’s neighboring countries and Iran.

COVID-19 tests in Damascus are inaccurate:

A doctor, who prefered to remain anonymous, in al-Haffah hospital in the Latakia governorate, Western Syria, reported to SMART that the results of tests sent from Damascus for people suspected to be infected with COVID-19 are inaccurate. 

The doctor added that the medical staff of the hospital sent samples of people suspected to be infected with COVID-19, caused by SARS-CoV-2, but the results the hospital receives are not trusted because the samples took days to arrive in Damascus. 

The doctor said that the people quarantined at the hospital are waiting for the results of their samples. However, the samples take days to arrive in Damascus, which spoils the samples before arriving at laboratories. 

The doctor denied any confirmed case of COVID-19 in Latakia. The doctor noted that there are 25 patients whom samples sent by the hospital to laboratories in Damascus. The doctor added that there are 12 patients in the Tishreen Hospital in Damascus waiting the results of their tests sent to laboratories and they are still quarantined. 

Medical centers’ capabilities in Northern Syria are poor:

The Syrian Interim Government’s Health Ministry emphasized that medical centers in Northern Syria are still poor to face COVID-19. 

Maram al-Sheikh, the Syrian Interim Government health minister reported to SMART that Northern Syria is unqualified currently to control COVID-19 due to the lack of medical staff, beds, intensive care units, and necessary equipment and resources to fight the virus. 

Al-Sheikh added that the laboratory of Early Warning Alert and Response Network in Idlib is the only one that conducts tests for people suspected to be infected with COVID-19. Al-Sheikh noted that the laboratory can only conduct from ten to 20 tests a day. Al-Sheikh added that the staff work hard to conduct tests, especially that each test needs ten hours to know the result.

Al-Sheikh revealed a plan with the Assistance Coordination Unit (ACU) to open three laboratories in the Afrin, Jarabulus, and Azaz areas. Al-Sheikh noted that the laboratories have conducted 220 tests so far with negative results.

Al-Sheikh emphasized that some kits to fight COVID-19 such as medical devices,  staff personal protection equipment, glasses, face masks, and gloves are almost unavailable in medical centers.

Al-Sheikh said that the ministry is waiting for equipment from the World Health Organization, including 100 respirators and other equipment to increase capacity of intensive care centers. Al-Sheikh noted that 5 percent of patients will need the respirators if COVID-19 spreads on a wide scale. Al-Sheikh said that currently there are only 210 beds in hospitals, Northern Syria.

Al-Sheikh revealed agreements with the Turkish Health Ministry to provide necessities of the medical centers in Northern Syria, hoping they arrive as soon as possible to save the area from a health disaster.

Arguments arise about praying in Autonomous Administration-controlled areas:

The Kurdish Autonomous Administration suspended the Friday prayer until further notice in the city of al-Raqqa, Northeastern Syria, to fight COVID-19.

Earlier, the Autonomous Administration’s Religious Affairs Institution issued a decision allowing Friday prayer in mosques within specific conditions to avoid the spread of COVID-19; however, later on, the institution cancelled the decision until further notice. 

On Tuesday, the Autonomous Administration extended the precautionary curfew for ten days in its controlled areas starting from April 22, 2020, to face COVID-19. 

Deaths from COVID19- increase in Iran and Turkey:

The Iranian Health Ministry registered 90 new deaths from COVID-19, bringing the total of deaths to 5,481.

The Iranaian official news agency quoted Kianoush Jahanpour, the spokesperson for the ministry as saying that the new cases of COVID-19 reached 1030 over the past 24 hours. Jahanpour added that the total of infected people increased to 87,026, including 3,105 critical cases.

On Wednesday, the Turkish Health Ministry registered 117 new deaths from COVID-19, bringing the total of deaths to 2,376. 

The ministry issued a statement saying that they registered 3,083 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total of infected people to 98,674.

The Iraqi Health Ministry issued a statement saying that laboratories registered 29 new cases of COVID-19, nine of them in al-Rusafa, six in al-Basra, six in Dhi-Qar, two in Babylon, and three in each of Medicine City and al-Najaf. 

The statement added that the ministry did not register any deaths and that 50 infected people recovered, bringing the total of infected people to 1,631, including 83 deaths and 1,146 cases of recovery.

A source from the Jordanian Health Ministry reported to SMART that they registered four cases of people who contacted infected members of their families, and three cases of trucks drivers coming through the border. The source added that two of the drivers are Jordanian, while the third is a foreigner.  

The source noted that the total of infected people in Jordan reached 435, and that seven infected people recovered, bringing the total of people who recovered to 315. 

On Dec. 31, 2019, the novel coronavirus COVID-19 spread in the Chinese city of Wuhan. The virus has infected more than 2.6 million people until April 23, 2020  in more than 210 countries, about 184,000 of them died, 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.