First Syrian doctor dies from Covid-19 in areas outside regime control

First Syrian doctor dies from Covid-19 in areas outside regime control

Activists have reported the first medical worker in Turkish-held Syria to die from Covid-19.
3 min read
10 September, 2020
Syria has seen a massive surge in Covid-19 cases [Getty]

Activists have reported that a Syrian medical worker in Aleppo province has died from Covid-19, the first doctor to succumb to the disease in areas outside regime control.

Dr. Adnan Al-Jasem worked as an anesthesiologist at a hospital in Al-Bab City, Aleppo province, an aid worker told The New Arab.

He passed away from the Covid-19 this week activists said, the first medical worker to die from the disease outside regime-controlled areas where the spread of the disease is continuing unabated.

Dr Shajul Islam, a British doctor working in Idlib, confirmed the news on Wednesday evening.

"Our condolences to the family of Dr. Adnan Al-Jasem, ananesthesiologist in Al Bab hospital, Aleppo. I really worry about what is to come for us medics in Idlib," he said in a tweet.

Al-Bab was captured by a Syrian opposition forces, backed by the Turkish military, from the Islamic State group in 2017. The spread of coronavirus in Syria, including northwestern Syria, has been a cause of concern for health workers.

Aid workers reported last week 89 active cases of Covid-19 in opposition areas, including 51 in Aleppo and 38 in Idlib.

With Dr. Al-Jasem's death, at least three people have now passed away from the disease in Aleppo and Idlib province.

An aid worker last week told The New Arab about the challenges faced in stopping the spread of the disease in Idlib province.

"People are facing a lack of support in general, particularly with water and hygiene products. Aid groups are facing difficulties with people not abiding by social distancing measures and humanitarian workers are facing even more risks in their line of work these days," the aid worker said, who did not wish to be named for security reasons.

Amany Qaddour, Regional Director of Syria Relief & Development (SRD), also said that health workers fear there are more cases of the disease than are being officially reported due to the low rate of testing.

"There is of course concern around the increase in cases, with planning around a potential peak in October, so this may only cause more alarm," Qaddour told The New Arab.

Northeast Syria, also outside regime control, has also seen a 1,000 percent increase in Covid-19 cases since August.

The surge has been made worse by shortages in vital medical equipment and doctors, along with difficulties brought about by fighting and border closures.

Paul McLoughlin is a news editor at The New Arab. 

Follow him on Twitter: @PaullMcLoughlin