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The New Arab Staff

Growing fears of coronavirus outbreak in Syria's northeast after 4 new cases confirmed

The defacto Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria announced new coronavirus measures [Getty]

Date of publication: 24 July, 2020

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The northeastern region has recorded a total of six cases, while medical supplies run scarce.
Kurdish officials in Syria's northeast announced four new cases of coronavirus infection on Thursday, sparking concerns among health officials that the numbers could soon rise further.

In a press conference in Qamishli, Kurdish health board co-chair Jwan Mustafa reportedly said that three women and a man had tested positive for Covid-19 out of ten people who were tested.

"This brings the total number of coronavirus cases in northeast Syria to six, including the two cases announced in April," he was quoted as saying by Rudaw, is a media group in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Mustafa advised caution, saying "the virus is among us and we are at a serious stage."

With only a couple of thousand PCR testing kits available, Rojava Information Center (RIC) – a local monitor group –has warned the region's health officials to test selectively due to the limited number of kits.

"With only a couple of thousand PCR testing strips available, health authorities in North and East Syria have to be extremely selective in who they test, and have conducted less than 200 coronavirus tests to date across a population of around 4,000,000," the group said in a tweet on Thursday.  

The defacto Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria – also known as Rojava – announced new coronavirus measures, including restrictions on public gatherings.

Restaurants, religious gatherings, weddings, ceremonies and funerals are all prohibited, Rojava said.

Read also: Deadly 'PKK bombing' and Syrian rebel clashes kill civilians

In regime-held areas, the total number of recorded cases reached 584, after the Health Ministry announced 
23 more infections on Thursday. A total of 174 have recovered, while  35 have died, according to official statistics.

"The new flare up of cases in northeast Syria is extremely serious due to the fact that these individuals are not related to each other. This indicates that there has been some spread of the virus," Thomas McClure, a Syria-based researcher at the Rojava Information Center, told Kurdistan 24.

"The worry is that the virus will now continue to spread through closely tight communities full of internally displaced people (IDPs), or even into IDP camps or under detention facilities, or al-Hol Camp," the researcher told the outlet.

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