Coronavirus 'disaster in the making' in war-torn Syria

Updated: Apr 14, 2020, 08:18 IST | Agencies | Paris

Official numbers are low with two deaths and 19 confirmed cases, but only 100 patients are being tested daily

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) says almost all of the 105 ICU beds and 30 adult ventilators in Idlib were already in use. Pic/AFP
The International Rescue Committee (IRC) says almost all of the 105 ICU beds and 30 adult ventilators in Idlib were already in use. Pic/AFP

Experts warn that disaster looms in war-torn Syria, where hospitals are unable to meet existing needs and hygiene conditions are dire. The Damascus government has closed borders, forbidden movement between provinces and shut schools and restaurants in an effort to stem the spread.

Official numbers are low with two deaths and 19 confirmed cases, but only 100 patients are being tested daily. "Medical staff believe that there are many people who are dying with the symptoms of the virus. But the security agencies ask them or order them not to mention it," said Zaki Mehchy, senior consulting fellow at a London-based think tank.

"There is a disaster in the making," said Emile Hokayem, an analyst. "Lack of food, water and exposure to cold weather have already left thousands in poor health, making them even more vulnerable," said IRC's Misty Buswell, adding that the devastation in Idlib could be "unimaginable".

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