Syria on brink of further disaster with huge jump in COVID-19 cases

31 Jul 2020 by Gabriel Thomas, News Media Advisor
Syria on brink of further disaster with huge jump in COVID-19 cases

Our hygiene promotion team and volunteers have been distributing soap to families in northern Syria.

Syria’s already vulnerable population is at a huge and rapidly increasing risk of COVID-19, warns international aid agency World Vision. The NGO makes the warning in a report documenting the first 100 days of the largest aid response in the organisation’s history. 
“The spectre of COVID-19 is yet another devastating blow for children and their families in Syria, who have been through a decade of war. The official figures could be the tip of the iceberg because testing is so scarce. For those living in camps, it can be impossible to socially distance or to access clean water.” said Andrew Morley, President and CEO of World Vision International. 

Official figures show the number of cases has increased twenty fold in the past three months, from 29 cases in May to 608 cases now. 

“We have heard reports that the increase in cases has overwhelmed the health system, with the Ministry of Health instructing hospitals in and around Damascus to stop taking in COVID-19 patients.” said Johan Mooij, Syria Response Director at World Vision. 

World Vision is extremely concerned about COVID-19 cases in Northwest Syria, where thousands of people are crammed into camps, after fleeing their homes because of the conflict. The figures there officially stand at 30, however, according to health experts on the ground this could rapidly increase. Doctors and nurses are also reported to be infected with COVID-19.
“As we witness global cases rising to more than sixteen million, we must be aware that in some of the world’s most vulnerable places, the virus isn’t even close to reaching its peak. In Syria, projected cases and deaths will be particularly severe among those who have fled conflict and are now living in camps. 

Much of the infrastructure has been destroyed and health services are skeletal. As cases increase, the already weak health system will soon be overwhelmed,” said Mooij.
World Vision’s 100 Days On – Covid-19 Response report reflects how the international organisation has responded to the pandemic inside camps, scaling up community, health worker, and faith leader activities. The organisation has so far reached forty four million people, almost half of them children, with essential aid and secondary impact support.
“We are grateful that our donors have enabled our organisation to respond and support so many to fight the impact of COVID-19 in some of the world’s most fragile places. World Vision and other aid agencies will continue to work with vulnerable children and their families as they battle the aftershocks of COVID-19 but we cannot do this alone,” said Andrew Morley. 
The international NGO is calling on global leaders to facilitate unfettered humanitarian access and urgently provide funding to increase testing and strengthen health systems in places where many will otherwise be left to die. 

Gabriel Thomas, News Media Advisor, World Vision New Zealand  |  ‚Äč+64 21 360 098