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UN: "There are significant shortages of personal protective equipment against COVID-19 in Syria"

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Editing: Hazem Halak |
TranslationEditor: Glory Jabr |
Translation: Muhammad Ghaith
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Publication date: 2020/05/20 08:01

Syria - SMART

On Tuesday night, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock said that there are significant shortages of personal protective equipment and other medical items against coronavirus (COVID-19) across Syria.

Briefing to the UN Security Council, Lowcock said, "The World Health Organization considerably supports the progressive expansion of testing capacities in Damascus, Aleppo, Lattakia and Homs – from conducting repairs to providing essential equipment, reagents and on-site training of laboratory technicians."

Lowcock noted, "Syrian government authorities have confirmed 58 cases in Syria to date, including three fatalities. Another six cases have been recorded in the north-east, including one fatality. Testing capacity is not yet sufficiently established for epidemiological evidence across the country, including in the north-east, where further efforts are underway with support from national and international partners.No cases have been confirmed in the north-west."

Lowcock said, "Let me echo what Geir Pedersen said to you yesterday, further to the Secretary-General’s global call for the waiver of sanctions that can undermine the capacity of countries to ensure access to food, essential health supplies and medical support to respond to the pandemic. Like Geir, I note the public assurances by relevant States that their sanctions programs relating to Syria neither ban the flow of humanitarian supplies nor target medicine and medical devices. I welcome their commitments to fully and expeditiously apply humanitarian exemptions.I continue to follow this issue closely."

Lowcock noted that the added impact of the pandemic is now driving food insecurity to record levels, as the Syrian Pound continues to lose value against the USD, especially in the north-west, which relies heavily on imported goods.

Lowcock added, "The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, warned this month that killings of civilians across Syria are increasing, and various parties to the conflict, including ISIL, appear to view the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to regroup and inflict violence on the population."

Lowcock called on UN members to scale up humanitarian assistance in Northwestern Syria, due to the rapid deterioration of the humanitarian situation since December, and the need to prepare for the impact of COVID-19. 

On March 22, 2020, the Syrian government officially registered the first case of COVID-19 in the Syrian government forces-controlled city of Damascus. Later, the registered cases gradually increased, reaching 58, except for the new cases, amidst international warnings that COVID-19 poses significant risk to all Syrians. 

On Dec. 31, 2019, the novel coronavirus COVID-19 spread in the Chinese city of Wuhan. The virus has infected more than 4.9 million people until May 20, 2020, about 324,000 of them died, according to the John Hopkins University. 

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.