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Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Syria reports first coronavirus death as fear grow of major outbreak

Several cities saw panic buying, with residents saying they saw food shortages and a surge in demand that pushed up prices ahead of the start of the curfew.

By: Reuters | Amman | Updated: March 30, 2020 11:59:30 am
Syria reports first coronavirus death as fear grow of major outbreak The World Health Organisation has warned that the country has a limited capacity to deal with a rapid spread of the virus. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi

Syria’s health ministry said on Sunday that a woman who died after being rushed to hospital for emergency treatment was found to have been infected by coronavirus in the country’s first officially reported death from the disease.

Syria also said its confirmed cases rose to nine from an earlier five cases, but medics and witnesses say there are many more. Officials deny a cover-up but have imposed a lockdown and draconian measures including a nationwide night curfew to stem the pandemic.

The moves to shut businesses, schools, universities, mosques and most government offices, as well as stop public transport, have spread fear among war-weary residents.

Several cities saw panic buying, with residents saying they saw food shortages and a surge in demand that pushed up prices ahead of the start of the curfew.

The United Nations says the country is at high risk of a major outbreak because of a fragile health system devastated by a nine-year war and lack of sufficient equipment to detect the virus, alongside large numbers of vulnerable people.

The World Health Organisation has warned that the country has a limited capacity to deal with a rapid spread of the virus.

On Sunday, the army announced an end to a call-up of army reserves. It has already ended conscription in what military defectors said was an attempt to prevent the spread of the virus among the rank and file.

The government also banned movement of people between governates. Security forces manned checkpoints around provincial cities and only allowed army vehicles and essential services to pass, witnesses said.

Opposition figures and independent politicians point to Damascus’ strong ties with Iran, the worst affected country in the region, as a source of possible contagion.

Here’s a quick Coronavirus guide from Express Explained to keep you updated: What can cause a COVID-19 patient to relapse after recovery? | COVID-19 lockdown has cleaned up the air, but this may not be good news. Here’s why | Can alternative medicine work against the coronavirus? | A five-minute test for COVID-19 has been readied, India may get it too | How India is building up defence during lockdown | Why only a fraction of those with coronavirus suffer acutely | How do healthcare workers protect themselves from getting infected? | What does it take to set up isolation wards?

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