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First case of COVID-19 in North East Syria: dire conditions prompt outbreak fears for thousands of children

19 April 2020 | Save the Children

Sonia Khush, Save the Children Syria Response Director, said:

We’re desperately hoping that this first COVID-19 case in North East Syria can be contained or the consequences are unthinkable. In North East Syria, there are fewer than 30 intensive care unit beds, only ten adult ventilators and just one paediatric ventilator. This scarcity makes prevention critical – but how do you frequently wash your hands in camps and towns with erratic water supplies? How can someone socially distance in severely overcrowded shelters that used to function as schools?

“The conflict in Syria is now in its tenth year. Children are chronically malnourished and have often not been vaccinated against diseases. Neither have their families. The health system is decimated.

“Aid workers must be allowed full access to communities so we can do all we can to slow the rate of infection by continuing social distancing strategies, providing remote education and distributing soap and other personal hygiene items. Families in North-East Syria have already lived through unimaginable horrors – we must act now to give them the best chance of combatting coronavirus.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

North East Syria is home to 1.35 million people in need, half of whom are children. Coronavirus tests are still not available in all areas across Syria and the results are largely centralized by a Damascus laboratory.

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