Corona in Syria

By Salwa Saada and Feras Trayfi

As of May 21st, according to the Syrian government reports, 58 cases of Coronavirus have been confirmed and 36 patients have recovered while three have died. Approximately 6,781 people are quarantined and 2,557 of them are under health control. Nobody can confirm the authenticity of these numbers.

Many hospitals and healthcare facilities have been destroyed because of the nearly ten-year war, and the rest are in dire straits. In addition, there is a shortage of medical personnel as well as a shortage of the equipment as well as devices required for the examinations, as reported by the international press regarding the current situation in Syria. In Damascus, many restrictions were imposed on citizens at the beginning of the Corona crisis. A curfew was imposed that began at 6 p.m. in the evening and continued until 6 a.m. in the morning. Outside of these prohibition times, people are only allowed to go to work or go out to shop for their everyday necessities. All shops and malls are closed except for the supermarkets, as are restaurants, tourist and leisure facilities as well as the sports halls. Private and public gatherings, events, and celebrations have been canceled and prohibited, including weddings, funerals, and condolences.

On Friday and Saturday, the curfew starts at 12 p.m. and lasts until 6 a.m. the next morning. Anyone who violates these rules will be fined in addition to being arrested.

These restrictions have many negative consequences for citizens, as prices for many staple foods have risen and panic and fear have spread among people. As a result, many people are calling for the lifting of economic sanctions against Syria through social media, because citizens themselves are most affected by these sanctions.

Mosques and churches are also closed. Compulsory leave for universities, schools and other educational institutions was extended until after Eid (Sugar Festival), the end of Ramadan. All students in the transition phase will automatically be promoted to the next grade and all certification exams are postponed until June 21st.

Only the following professions can go to work: medical personnel, the army and the police, as well as security forces, pharmacies and the press. Taxis are only allowed to work in emergency situations. Offices and authorities are accessible with customer traffic restrictions. Entry and exit across national borders are prohibited including travel between provinces and cities.

However, these rules and restrictions, which apply nationwide, were gradually relaxed as Ramadan began. The curfew now begins at 7:30 p.m. instead of 6:00 p.m. Dental clinics can work again. Some shops, repair shops, sewing and hairdressing shops can open, but only on certain days or for limited times, alternating times. Transport trips were again made possible between cities and rural areas within the same province, so that employees and workers can go to their workplaces. The universities will also reopen from May 31st, but under certain conditions. The curfew will continue until further notice.

The media publish information to raise awareness about the virus and advise readers to comply with the hygiene rules and social distancing. However, there is no obligation to follow these guidelines, such as certain distances between people or wearing masks.

The situation in the besieged areas and in the refugee camps on the border is much worse, as people there cannot survive long due to the lack of medical staff, resources and lack of knowledge about the virus. According to those responsible for these camps, awareness-raising campaigns have been carried out by local organizations, but they are insufficient to prevent the risk of the virus spreading. A doctor from the city of Idlib said during an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel, “There is not even enough clean drinking water in Idlib, so certainly not enough for hygiene.” When asked about soaps, disinfectants and detergents, he remained silent.

Many people in these areas do not have enough to eat or drink. For those who live in refugee camps on the border, the foreign press describes the situation as tragic, especially since clean drinking water is often not available.

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Foto: Syrien, tünews INTERNATIONAL; A.A.

 

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