Coronavirus: Syria’s official COVID-19 tally under suspicion as hospitals overwhelmed

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Reports that Syrian hospitals are overwhelmed with coronavirus patients have surfaced online, adding to mounting evidence that the Syrian government’s official COVID-19 tally vastly downplays the true extent of the crisis in the war-torn country.

The government’s official coronavirus figures are notably low, with apparently only 2,563 confirmed cases in the country.


However, a report from the dedicated analysis website Syria in Context, citing dozens of sources, estimated that the spread of the virus was far higher, and claimed that there were likely at least 85,000 coronavirus cases in Damascus alone by early August.

Read the latest updates in our dedicated coronavirus section.

Syria in Context recently provided additional evidence suggesting COVID-19 is out of control in the country, with satellite photographs appearing to show an expansion to the Najha Cemetery outside of Damascus.

On Saturday, further evidence surfaced when the Syrian Law Journal reported that state-owned hospitals in Syria were becoming “inundated” with coronavirus patients, forcing many to turn to private hospitals that require health insurance.

Given the situation, some doctors have set up voluntary services but are lacking in personal protective equipment (PPE) and proper facilities, said Syria in Context, with one doctor telling the publication that there were no coronavirus testing facilities.

Local Syrian Facebook groups also feature Syrians complaining about the lack of government response and posting death notices for friends and relatives, again suggesting that the outbreak is far less in control than the government claims, The National reported.

The UN has endorsed the suggestion that COVID-19 is spreading out of control in Syria despite the government’s narrative.

On Thursday, Assistant Secretary-General for humanitarian affairs Ramesh Rajasingham said that actual COVID-19 cases in the country “far exceed official figures” and “rising patient numbers are adding pressure to the fragile health system.”

He added that many people “are reluctant to seek care at medical facilities, leading to more severe complications when they do arrive,” and “health workers still lack sufficient personal protective equipment and associated supplies.”

With The Associated Press

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