Fears of loss of control over coronavirus outbreak in Syria

DAMASCUS – The Syrian Ministry of Health announced the registration of a new infection of the novel coronavirus COVID-19, bringing the total number of confirmed cases acknowledge by Damascus to five. The Syrian government in Damascus has limited testing capacity and experts fear the disease is spread much farther than the government knows or is admitting.

In a statement, the Ministry of Health confirmed that the infected person had arrived from abroad several days earlier and was immediately quarantined. Testing later showed that the quarantined individual had COVID-19.

Deputy Minister of Health Dr. Ahmed Khalifawi confirmed that infected people will stay in the quarantine center, their health monitored until they are fully recovered.

Dr. Khalifawi pointed out that the people in the quarantine center, whose results of laboratory tests were negative, are released from the center and placed in a house quarantine where local medical personnel can check for any change in their health.

The United States has warned Syrian authorities about the risk the novel coronavirus poses in Syria, where and outbreak could happen “on a catastrophic scale” due to overcrowded prisons, an increasingly weakened economy, and an overstretched health sector.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said that the conditions in detention facilities constitute an appropriate atmosphere for the rapid spread of the virus, which could have devastating consequences for the most vulnerable detainees, after having survived months or even years of torture, starvation, and denial of health care. The State Department demanded the Assad regime immediately releases all civilians unjustly detained, including women, children, and the elderly.