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Assad regime reports highest one-day Covid-19 infections toll

Local | 2020-08-08 21:24:00
Assad regime reports highest one-day Covid-19 infections toll
Syria's Health Ministry on Saturday has recorded 65 new coronavirus cases, topping the total of COVID-19 infections to 1160.

Zaman al-Wasl sources have rebuffed regime tally saying the death toll is in hundreds, saying the epidemic has turned out of control in regime-held areas and the situation is catastrophic.

Syria's capital is facing a "terrible" spike in COVID-19 infections, with hospitals packed, patients scouring Facebook for advice and medics fearing the virus is spreading faster than clinics can test for it.

Limited testing facilities and Syrian regime control over pandemic statistics have led to concerns that the real number of cases is much higher than what's being reported. 

Officially, 1160 people have now been confirmed with the coronavirus in Syria, and while at least 331 people have recovered from COVID-19 and 50 people have died, the majority of them registered since July, according to data from the World Meters organisation. 

On Tuesday, four players and three staff members on Syria’s national soccer team were tested positive for coronavirus and are in isolation, a Syrian official said.

The infections come amid reports of a surge in COVID-19 cases in the divided, war-torn country, where health care facilities and services have been badly hit during the nearly 10-year conflict. Many doctors and health practitioners have fled Syria.

After being slow to implement a lockdown, Syrian authorities have since eased restrictions amid deepening economic hardship. Tightening Western sanctions have also led to increasing poverty in government-controlled Syria.

After restrictions were eased in early June, there was a notable increase in recorded cases, mostly in the capital Damascus and its surrounding countryside. Dozens of cases were recorded in Aleppo and other government-controlled areas also.

In late July, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said official cases reported by the Syrian Ministry of Health increased by more than 100% in July, including over 270 cases of unknown origin “potentially indicating that community transmission is now widespread.”

The U.N. agency said the Ministry of Health reported 44 health care workers were among those who tested positive for the virus, calling it of “particular concern.” It also reported that humanitarian actors have been receiving unverified reports of additional cases and that in some areas health care facilities have been unable to absorb all suspected cases.

The Syrian regime appears reluctant to reimpose a lockdown while the country’s economy unravels.

Rumors have swirled that the virus numbers reported mask a far more severe outbreak.

The deaths of half a dozen Islamic clerics in Damascus in one week in mid-July raised even more suspicion. Only one was known to have died from the virus but it wasn't clear what caused the other deaths. A well-known Lebanese singer who resided in Syria also died of the virus in late July.

Social media groups have advertised rental oxygen tanks for home use as well as private home nurses for hire instead of resorting to what they said are overcrowded hospitals.

Syria in Context, a newsletter that follows Syrian affairs, reported on a message from a doctor in Damascus speaking about a shortage of tests while overwhelmed hospitals are sending mild cases away.

According to the newsletter, the director of the Bureau of the Deceased said there has been a “remarkable increase" in deaths caused by COVID-19 or similar respiratory diseases since July 10, without giving a number. It said those who died of the virus were buried in a cemetery in the Damascus countryside to avoid spreading the virus to residential areas. (Zaman Al Wasl, Agencies)


Zaman Al Wasl
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