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Coronavirus Cases Jump in Damascus

Coronavirus Cases Jump in Damascus

Sunday, 9 August, 2020 - 07:45
Ward at a specialized coronavirus hospital inaugurated by the Kurdish Red Crescent in Hasakeh. (AFP)

The Syrian capital, Damascus, registered on Saturday a jump in the number of COVID-19 infections, recording 1,060 cases and 48 deaths, according to the Health Ministry.

Damascus residents indicate that the number of cases and deaths is much greater than the official figures.

The Ministry warned of an increase in cases, which may lead to a wider spread of the disease if citizens do not adhere to the preventive measures.

A number of officials contracted the coronavirus including commander of the Palestinian Liberation Army Major General Muhammad Tariq al-Khadra, who died on Wednesday.

The Bar Association also mourned 14 lawyers who died after being infected with the virus, and announced it was suspending work until August 10 due to health concerns.

Reports on social media affiliated with the Doctors Syndicate confirmed the death of 30 doctors and pharmacists after contracting the coronavirus.

A number of doctors and activists warned against a significant increase in the number of injuries, at a time when numbers of the Health Ministry showed that infections doubled within nearly a month.

A doctor in one of Damascus hospitals told AFP that the number of patients now exceeds the capacity of government hospitals. He indicated that the real numbers are much more than the announced official figures, adding that patients are waiting in hospitals hallways.

Due to the spike in cases, authorities banned sporting events and closed clubs, halls and summer schools in Damascus until further notice.

Last month, the Health Minister, Nizar Yazigi, admitted there were great difficulties in securing needed supplies due to the sanctions imposed on his country.

Yazigi announced that it is forbidden to transfer funds through the Central Bank to outside the country to import medicine and medical equipment.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and several countries, including Russia and China, have sent medical aid to Syria.

Meanwhile, Syrians are opting for online medical advice and referring to social media pages which provide free medical consultations, such as "Sterilize It!" and "Syrian Health Platform." The pages publish the latest developments on the novel coronavirus and its spread around the world.

More than 150,000 people follow "Stethoscope," which publishes free medical advice from some 200 doctors and pharmacists on how to best avoid or treat a COVID-19 infection.

Founded in 2017, the page originally aimed to be "a voice for Syrian doctors”, but now serves as a virtual clinic, according to its founder Dr. Hussein Najjar.

The London University of Economics (LSE) released the results of a study on the possibility of the spread of coronavirus in Syria.

The study entitled “Forecasting the Scenarios for COVID-19 in Syria with an SIR Model”, predicts that by the end of August, the total number of active cases would be around two million and the total related deaths to be around 119,000.

Another scenario in the study assumed a widespread awareness of the pandemic and commitment to mitigation measures among Syrians, with few effective official measures such as closure of restaurants and suspension of large gatherings, and strict monitoring of borders.

Under that scenario, the coronavirus cases would reach 289,500 with a total death of 17,400 by the end of August.

The third scenario assumes a widespread awareness of the pandemic and commitment to mitigation measures among Syrians, with strict and effective official measures such as banning large gatherings, closure of nonessential economic activities, and limiting social visits.

The results of such a scenario show that by the end of August the total number of active COVID-19 cases would be 101,000, and the total deaths would be 6,100.

“The acute situation requires urgent attention from the local authorities and international community to prevent an uncontrolled outbreak, the harm of which could threaten the regional and global health security,” stated the study.

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