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.
Authorities in government-held areas have confirmed 999 cases including 48 deaths — but even the health ministry admitted this week it lacks the “capacity… to carry out widespread testing in the provinces”.
Nine years of war have battered Syria’s health sector, with hospitals damaged by bombing, vital equipment lacking and doctors hurt or forced to flee fighting.
That has set the country up poorly to deal with the coronavirus, a new invisible danger for doctors more accustomed to dealing with trauma wounds and victims used to huddling together under bombs, not keeping apart.
Week on week, COVID-19 appears to be spreading faster.
From July 30 to August 6, the Syrian health ministry logged more than 260 new cases,