A volunteer sprays disinfectants as precautionary against coronavirus at tents and public facilities in a camp in the Idlib region in Syria | Photo: EPA/Yahya Nemah
A volunteer sprays disinfectants as precautionary against coronavirus at tents and public facilities in a camp in the Idlib region in Syria | Photo: EPA/Yahya Nemah

The World Health Organization (WHO) is sending coronavirus tests to northwestern Syria to combat a potential outbreak. The first case of Covid-19 in Syria was confirmed by the government on Monday.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) announced on Monday that it will send tests for the novel coronavirus to northwestern Syria as part of UN efforts to monitor the situation in one of the most vulnerable regions of the Middle East.

"Testing will be available in Idlib after two days," WHO spokesperson Hedinn Halldorsson said on Monday. According to news agency AFP, Halldorsson announced that some 300 test kits would be delivered to a laboratory in Idlib city on Wednesday and an additional 2,000 tests would be delivered as soon as possible.

At least one Covid-19 case in Syria

The announcement came after the Syrian government on Monday confirmed the news that there was a first case of Covid-19 in Syria. (Covid-19 is the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.)

Through the UN's medical partner organizations in Syria, the WHO has instructed healthcare personnel in the Idlib and surrounding area on the use of the tests. Some Turkish medical labs will be supporting the monitoring. According to the WHO, three hospitals with intensive care units have been set up as isolation centers equipped with artificial respirators. As many as 1,000 healthcare workers have reportedly been mobilized.

Worried about potential coronavirus outbreak

Many medical experts are extremely worried about a potential outbreak of the coronavirus in Syria. Hundreds of thousands of displaced people are living in crowded camps near the Turkish border in northern Syria, where there are not enough bathrooms, doctors or medical supplies. The Syrian healthcare system has been wrecked by the civil war, which has been going on for nine years.

Backed by Russia and Iran, the government in Damascus controls most of central and western Syria but does not have control over large parts east of the Euphrates River and some key northwestern districts in the Aleppo and Idlib provinces. The latter are under de factor Turkish control.
 

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