Jul 9, 2020 - World

First coronavirus case reported in northwestern Syria

Doctors in a hospital in Idlib, Syria adjust their protective personal equipment

A doctor wearing full protective gear adjusts a face cover to his colleague at a hospital in Idlib, Syria. Photo: Anas Alkharboutli/picture alliance via Getty Images

A 39-year-old doctor tested positive for the coronavirus in northwestern Syria, making him the first confirmed case in the region, according to the aid group Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations.

Why it matters: The spread of COVID-19 in Syria, particularly in Aleppo, could have a devastating impact on people already displaced by the Syrian Civil War.

  • Over 4 million people live in northwestern Syria in densely populated conditions with little to no health care access. The government would not be able to handle an influx of COVID-19 cases, per UOSSM.

The state of play:

  • There are less than 300 ICU beds in Idlib and a very limited number of ventilators, most of which aren't available to treat potential coronavirus patients.
  • 85 medical facilities have been attacked in the past 12 months, and many are not functional.
  • "Years of war and malnutrition have left many people’s immune systems compromised and the entire population susceptible to drastically higher mortality rates," UOSSM notes.

Go deeper: Global coronavirus crisis leaves refugees vulnerable

Go deeper