Restrictions imposed amid unprecedented coronavirus outbreak in rebel-held Syria
The health ministry of the opposition's "Syrian Interim Government" recorded 80 new cases of Covid-19 in Idlib province and northern Aleppo province on Monday. This is the highest number of new cases recorded in a single day, bringing the total number of cases in rebel-held areas to 345.
A total of 3,576 cases and 157 deaths from coronavirus have been recorded in Syria as a whole but the Assad regime, which today controls most of Syria, has been accused of covering up the true scale of the crisis.
In the border city of Jarabulus, which is held by Turkish-backed Syrian fighters, the local council announced the closure of all public gathering places, including coffee-houses, restaurants, and barber shops because of the rising number of Covid-19 infections.
In a Facebook post, the council urged people to follow social distancing rules and safety measures when shopping for food.
In Idlib province, the self-proclaimed “National Salvation Government”, which is affiliated with the hardline Islamist group HTS, announced the closure of wedding halls, sports facilities, swimming pools, and private education institutions.
It also said that restaurants should only open for take-away services.
The moderate opposition "Syrian Interim Government", which is based in Turkey, called on the World Health Organization to take appropriate measures in response and to raise awareness of the extent of the crisis.
However, its health minister, Maram Al-Sheikh, said that it could not impose a curfew in areas where the rival "National Salvation Government" was operating.
There are grave fears over the spread of coronavirus in opposition-held areas and refugee camps in northern Syria, particularly because most of the health infrastructure there has been destroyed in previous regime and Russian bombing, with medical staff either being killed or fleeing as a result.