Syria announces first case of novel coronavirus

A World Health Organization spokesman earlier this month warned that Syria’s “fragile health systems may not have the capacity to detect and respond” to what is now a pandemic. (AFP)
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Updated 23 March 2020

Syria announces first case of novel coronavirus

  • Authorities have over the past week increasingly taken measures to prevent a spread of the deadly virus
  • Transport between provinces is to come to a halt from Tuesday

DAMASCUS: The Syrian government has announced the first case of the novel coronavirus in the war-torn country, days after starting measures to stem the spread of the pandemic.
Health minister Nizar Yaziji late Sunday said authorities had recorded “a first case of the coronavirus in Syria in a person coming from abroad,” without specifying the country.
“The appropriate measures have been taken to deal with” the female patient aged around 20, state news agency SANA reported him as telling journalists.
The Damascus authorities have over the past week increasingly taken measures to prevent a spread of the deadly virus.
They have ordered schools, universities, restaurants, cinemas and events halls to close, and suspended prayer gatherings.
They have also stopped work or downsized staff in government institutions, and transport between provinces is to come to a halt from Tuesday.
Last week, Damascus postponed parliamentary polls scheduled for next month until further notice.
After nine years of a war that has killed more than 380,000 people and ravaged the country’s infrastructure, fears are high that a COVID-19 outbreak in the country would have devastating consequences, especially in areas outside regime control.
These include the last major rebel bastion of Idlib in the northwest, and the Kurdish-held northeast.
A World Health Organization spokesman earlier this month warned that Syria’s “fragile health systems may not have the capacity to detect and respond” to what is now a pandemic.


Gaza residents donate blood for Beirut victims

Updated 3 min 22 sec ago

Gaza residents donate blood for Beirut victims

  • Dozens took part in a blood drive in the city of Khan Younis on Wednesday
  • “I donated my blood in a moment of loyalty to the Lebanese people,” said Khan Younis resident Abu Diab Ouida

GAZA: Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are participating in a blood donation drive to try and help victims of the explosion in Beirut that has wounded thousands.
Dozens took part in a blood drive in the city of Khan Younis on Wednesday, which was sponsored by the Palestinian Red Crescent Society. Organizers said they will coordinate with the International Committee of the Red Cross to try to get the blood donations delivered to Lebanon.
“I donated my blood in a moment of loyalty to the Lebanese people,” said Khan Younis resident Abu Diab Ouida.
The Gaza Strip has been under a joint Israeli-Egyptian blockade since 2007, after the Islamist militant group Hamas took power from Palestinian rivals in an armed coup. It remains unclear whether the donated blood will be able to reach Lebanon.