WHO to test for coronavirus in northwest Syria, where millions live in camps

WHO to test for coronavirus in northwest Syria, where millions live in camps
The WHO will start testing for the coronavirus in northwest Syria, where close to a million civilians were left displaced by the devastating conflict.
1 min read
17 March, 2020
The Syrian regime denies any presence of coronavirus in its country [AFP]

The World Health Organisation (WHO) will begin testing for COVID-19 in opposition northwest Syria this week, according to a Reuters report on Monday.

Syria's war, which last week entered its 10th year, is now concentrated in the northwest province of Idlib. The last rebel-held territory standing, Idlib has been ruthlessly targeted by regime forces. 

With nearly a million Syrians displaced to crowded and exposed makeshift camps, the conflict rendered hundreds of thousands vulnerable to the coronavirus.

According to Reuters, only about half of medical facilities in rebel-held Syria are operational.

"We are hoping... to have the machinery and the tests sometime this week so we can start testing," said Dr. Rick Brennan, emergency director for the region, told Reuters. "And we are very concerned. All of the surrounding countries have documented cases."

Despite all its regional neighbours struggling with epidemics of their own, the Syrian regime denies any presence of coronavirus in the country.

The regime implemented preventative measures last week, such as postponing parliamentary elections, shuttering academic institutions and banning shisha pipes in public places.

There are serious doubts over claims by the regime that there are no coronavirus cases in the country.

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