For Immediate Release
July 9, 2020
Washington, D.C. – Today, the first positive case of COVID-19 in northwest Syria has been confirmed. The patient, who is a doctor working at SAMS-supported Bab al-Hawa Hospital in Idlib, has been in isolation since first noticing symptoms on July 5th. The patient recently traveled to Idlib from northern Aleppo, but the source of the infection remains unknown.
In response, SAMS has temporarily suspended all referrals to Bab al-Hawa Hospital, and the staff and patients are in isolation. SAMS is coordinating with the Early Warning Alert and Response Network (EWARN) to facilitate testing and contact tracing in order to identify other suspected cases in individuals who had contact with the infected patient. SAMS also continues to implement COVID-19 preparedness measures throughout northwest Syria in case of a larger outbreak.
Residents of northwest Syria should continue to take precautionary measures such as social distancing, handwashing, and wearing masks to limit the spread of the virus as much as possible.
The confirmation of a COVID-19 case in northwest Syria is especially alarming, as it comes during UN Security Council negotiations surrounding the fate of the cross-border aid resolution that provides access to northwest Syria for critical humanitarian and medical assistance. This development further demonstrates the need for Council members to reauthorize UNSC 2504 to include both Bab al-Hawa and Bab al-Salam border crossings for a duration of 12 months, in order to ensure that humanitarian and health actors are able to respond to the pandemic while also continuing to meet the ongoing needs of the 4 million people currently residing in northwest Syria.
For media inquiries, contact SAMS Senior Media & Communications Manager Lobna Hassairi at [email protected]