First COVID-19 case in North West Syria: fears of rapid outbreak in this densely populated area
Sonia Khush, Save the Children Syria Response Director said:
“The first case of COVID-19 in North West Syria is a major blow to the millions of civilians – mainly women and children – living in this area. Now more than ever, guns need to remain silent, the ceasefire needs to hold and all efforts have to be geared towards the aid and health response.
“Syria is now in its tenth year of conflict with a decimated health system. In the North-West, there are just 153 ventilators and 148 beds in intensive care units for a population of millions. It is also home to more than 1.5 million displaced people, many of whom have moved multiple times. A wider COVID-19 outbreak would see families who are already fighting for survival – many without clean water or nutritious food – battle this highly infectious disease in overcrowded camps and shelters.
“Previous ceasefires in North West Syria have not held long enough for aid workers to deliver vital support to all the families they could potentially reach. In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s imperative that this one does to allow us to deliver life-saving aid.”
Save the Children’s partners on the ground have been working to respond and adapt activities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes:
- providing some services virtually rather than face-to-face, such as distance learning.
- switching group activities such as counselling and vaccinations services to one-on-on, door-to-door activities or holding them in smaller groups of three or four individuals at the time while practicing social distancing.
- trucking in extra supplies of water and distributing water tanks to households.
- holding COVID-19 awareness-raising campaigns for children, especially in camps
- increasing the number of aid distribution points and ensuring people practice social distancing in queues.
- all schools are currently suspended.