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World War-ravaged Syria takes new steps against coronavirus, says no recorded cases yet

14:51  20 march  2020
14:51  20 march  2020 Source:   reuters.com

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Syria is urging the global community to loosen up the sanctions against the country and shield it from the coronavirus epidemic, Syrian Ambassador "The Syrian government has taken many measures aimed at preventing the spread of the epidemic in the country, and no coronavirus cases have been

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syria, already shattered by nine years of war, has banned entry for foreigners arriving from many countries hit by the coronavirus as part of widening measures to combat the epidemic.

a person standing in a room: A worker sanitises a door at a hospital, as hospitals enforce a series of measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Damascus © Reuters/OMAR SANADIKI A worker sanitises a door at a hospital, as hospitals enforce a series of measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Damascus

Although the government says it has yet to document any infections, Syria is seen at high risk from the virus.

"We have vulnerable populations in camps, refugees, slum areas at the outskirts of large urban centers," the World Health Organization's Syria representative, Nima Saeed Abid, told Reuters.

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Officials said 34 new coronavirus cases had been confirmed, all involving people who had come to China The American economy is poised for its worst quarterly contraction on record , with War-torn Libya, Yemen and Syria have yet to declare a single case . But at least eight cases in Pakistan were

The WHO's head Dr Tedros says new cases outside China are now the "greatest concern". The coronavirus outbreak has reached a "decisive point" and has "pandemic potential", World Health Organization head Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus says .

"If we take the scenarios in China or even in Iran, we are expecting we may have large number of cases and we are preparing accordingly."

Coronavirus infections have also yet to be recorded in the large parts of Syria outside government control - the east, northeast and northwest.

The rebel-held northwest was already facing a major humanitarian crisis with nearly one million people displaced by fighting in the past few months as the Russain-backed government mounted an offensive.

The entry ban announced overnight by Damascus followed the closure of schools, parks, restaurants and various public institutions. A health hotline is being launched, Health Minister Nizar Yazigi said.

He also responded to suggestions of a cover-up.

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"The health ministry is the only source of information about this matter and not rumors circulating on social media," the state news agency quoted him as saying on Thursday. "When there is an infection, it will be announced."

Still, Kurdish-aligned authorities that govern much of northeastern and eastern Syria are not convinced.

"We took decisions to close all crossings with the regime," said Ghassan al-Yousef, head of a council that administers areas of Deir al-Zor province east of the Euphrates River.

He cited fear of the virus crossing from government territory west of the Euphrates River, particularly areas controlled by pro-Damascus Shi'ite militias that are backed by Iran and recruit from countries where the virus has spread.

The Kurdish-led administration has banned movement between towns in its region starting from Saturday and a curfew will begin Monday.

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Officials also announced three other confirmed coronavirus cases in the county, all at EvergreenHealth. All four new cases were residents of a nursing facility in Kirkland where two other people — a resident and a worker — had previously tested positive.

A total of 59 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the US, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Meanwhile South Korea, which has the highest number of cases outside China, mobilised the army on Saturday. Soldiers are disinfecting large parts of Daegu, the south-eastern city

In the opposition-held northwest, rescue workers whose usual role is to respond to government bombardments have been sanitizing classrooms. Medics in the northwest fear the virus would spread very quickly in crowded camps for the displaced.

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All the countries bordering Syria have coronavirus outbreaks.

(Writing by Tom Perry; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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