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The New Arab Staff

Coronavirus cases in Syria increase amid doubts over figures reported by regime

Coronavirus cases have increased across Syria [Getty]

Date of publication: 2 August, 2020

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The number of coronavirus cases has increased across Syria as doubts emerge over figures reported by the regime's health ministry and the ability of authorities to contain the crisis.
Cases of Covid-19 have risen in Syria amid new doubts over the number of infections reported by the Assad regime's health ministry.

In rebel-held areas of the country, a humanitarian group called The Assistance Coordination Unit reported that the total number of cases had risen to 35 from 26 last week. 19 of the recorded cases had made a recovery.

Three of the new cases had been recorded in the town of Al-Ra'ie near the Turkish-controlled city of Al-Bab in northern Aleppo province.

The regime's Health Ministry said on Saturday evening that it found 23 new cases of the coronavirus, raising the total number of reported cases to 780.

According to the ministry's figures, 43 people have died of coronavirus in regime-held areas, while 246 had recovered.

However, on Thursday the health ministry said that it was only counting cases which had tested positive after receiving a PCR test and that there were more, unreported cases that had not been counted.

The ministry said that "it did not have the capacity" to carry out a comprehensive survey of coronavirus cases in Syria, blaming economic sanctions imposed by the United States under the Caesar Civilian Protection Act.

The US says that the Caesar Act sanctions, which were imposed on top regime figures in response to atrocities against political detainees and other civilians, do not target Syria's health, food or humanitarian sectors.

Read more: To protect and punish – Can Caesar Act sanctions avoid harming Syrians?

Syrian humanitarian groups have previously accused the regime of covering up the true scale of coronavirus in the country, and doctors in regime-held areas have reported an increasing number of cases, saying that the regime was unable to contain the spread of the disease.

Covid-19 cases have also risen in areas held by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces. The Civilian Council of Raqqa has imposed a 14-day curfew on the cities of Raqqa and of Tabqa in northeastern Syria after the discovery of 20 new cases in the two cities.

All public places, including mosques, coffee-shops, and restaurants have been closed in the cities, and people are only allowed to leave Raqqa in case of medical emergency.

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