Syria says Damascus coronavirus beds full

Syria says Damascus coronavirus beds full
For the first time since the pandemic erupted, the health ministry official said intensive care beds for coronavirus patients in the capital Damascus are full.
2 min read
Syria has recorded thousands of Covid-19 cases [Getty]
Intensive care beds for coronavirus patients in Syria's capital Damascus were full on Thursday, a health ministry official said, in the first such announcement since the start of the pandemic.

"The occupancy rate of intensive care beds dedicated for coronavirus patients in public hospitals... in Damascus has reached 100 percent," state news agency SANA quoted health ministry official Tawfiq Hassab as saying.

"A certain number of Covid-19 patients who needed intensive care have been transferred to other provinces," he said, noting a large increase in local transmission.

Syria has recorded 16,776 cases of Covid-19, including 1,120 deaths in government-held areas.

But the World Health Organisation (WHO) believes the number of cases could be much higher in view of limited testing.

Meanwhile, the Syrian presidency has said President Bashar al-Assad and his wife have caught mild cases of Covid-19, but as of Wednesday they were recovering.

Government-held areas in Syria are to receive coronavirus vaccines under the Covax global initiative to ensure jabs reach low-income countries.

Read also: Bashar and Asma Al-Assad 'recovering' from Covid-19, Syrian presidency says

The WHO, together with the UN children's agency UNICEF and Gavi, will support Syria in acquiring jabs to initially cover at least three percent of the population and aim for 20 percent by 2022.

"The first allocation of vaccines is anticipated by the end of the first quarter of 2021, or within the next quarter at the latest," a WHO report said on Thursday.

In February, Human Rights Watch urged support for aid groups to ensure "equitable" distribution of coronavirus vaccines to all areas of war-torn Syria, warning against any bid by the regime to block access to opposition and Kurdish-held regions.

Meanwhile on Sunday, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the overall death toll for Syria's civil war has reached 388,652 since it began a decade ago this month.

Attacks by the Syrian regime and allied militia forces accounted for the majority of civilian deaths, said the Britain-based monitor which relies on sources inside Syria for its reports.

The Observatory's previous tally was issued in December and stood at more than 387,000.

Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said 2020 saw the lowest annual death toll since the war began with just over 10,000 deaths.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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