’It’s like Judgment Day’: Syrians Recount Horror of an Underreported COVID-19 Outbreak - Newlines Magazine
For almost two months after the first case was announced in Syria, official figures showed limited circulation of the virus, with under 50 cases by mid-May. At the time of this writing, that figure had risen to 4,457 cases in territories run by the government, 1,072 in rebel-controlled areas in northwestern Syria, and 1,998 in northeast Syria, where a predominantly Kurdish de facto autonomous administration is in charge. Only 192 deaths have been registered by the Ministry of Health.
In quarantine centers, which housed suspected domestic COVID-19 cases as well as ones coming from abroad including hundreds of repatriated citizens, people were jammed together in small rooms and forced to share unsanitary utilities. Karam, an administrative assistant at a cash transfer agency, was taken to a center in the Damascus countryside upon his return from Baghdad, where he had to sleep on unwashed sheets and pillowcases.
In Idlib in the northwest, where Turkey-backed opposition forces hold sway, the outbreak continues to grow, albeit at a slower pace. The northwest is home to vulnerable populations of internal refugees who cannot adhere to social distancing or adequate handwashing in crowded camps. The region has also lost many of its medical centers and health care workers due to Russian and Syrian regime airstrikes over the past few years.