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Coronavirus in Syria: WHO to test for coronavirus

March 17, 2020 at 4:04 pm

An overlook of a refugee camp during a freezing cold day in Idlib, Syria on February 13, 2020. Many civilians have left their homes in northwest Syria due to the attacks by Assad regime forces and their allies. Winter conditions make their struggle harder. [Hadi Harrat – Anadolu Agency]

The World Health Organisation will start testing for coronavirus in opposition-held north-west Syria later this week, the agency’s regional head said yesterday.

WHO team are hoping to have the machinery and the examinations sometime this week so they can start testing said Dr. Rick Brennan, emergency director for the region, Reuters reported.

“And we are very concerned. All of the surrounding countries have documented cases,” he said.

There have been no officially registered cases of the virus in Syria, though Pakistan has blamed coronavirus cases on returnees from Syria.

READ: Media bias is politicising the coronavirus pandemic coverage

At a press conference in Damascus on Saturday, Syrian Health Minister Nizar Yazigi said all tests of suspected cases in government-controlled territory have been negative, state run SANA  reported.

According to the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), which works on the ground in opposition-held north-west Syria, opposition groups had tried to limit the movement of people at two checkpoints at the frontline in northern Syria, fearing that infection could spread from government-held areas.

WHO’s office in Damascus said the international health body did not receive any official report of confirmed cases in the war-torn country but said it assesses the risk as very high, Al Jazeera reported.