COVID-19 testing kits run out in northeast Syria: Official

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COVID-19 testing kits ran out two weeks ago in the northeast Syria area under the control of the self-declared Kurdish administration, a health official said Monday.

The official said the absence of testing kits has hindered the ability to determine the new numbers of cases of the coronavirus in the region.

Read the latest updates in our dedicated coronavirus section.

The autonomous Kurdish administration has not published new COVID-19 figures since November 10, having previously registered a total of 36,960 cases, including 1,478 deaths.

“There are new cases but we don’t have the capacity to test them because the lab has stopped working,” health official Nechirvan Suleiman told AFP.

“Testing kits ran out two weeks ago.”

Already hit by shortages in medical supplies, northeastern Syria has relied during the pandemic on a single lab to test for the virus, located in the city of Qamishli in Hasakeh province.

Only 40,000 people have been fully vaccinated against coronavirus in the region, which receives vaccines sent from Damascus.

The Syrian capital received two shipments of vaccine doses in the past month. The first shipment included more than 1.3 million doses of the Chinese Sinovac jab via the global COVAX initiative, while the second was of one million Sinopharm doses from China.

Syria has seen a rise in COVID-19 infections over the past months, with hospitals at or past capacity.

Government-controlled areas in Syria recorded in October the highest rates of infection since the outbreak of the pandemic in the country, according to the United Nations.

Medical staff and international organizations fear a further surge in COVID-19 infections with the start of the winter season, particularly in areas outside government control, where many camps for displaced people are concentrated.

In late October, UN under-secretary general for humanitarian affairs Martin Griffiths warned in a briefing to the Security Council that “cases are surging, ICUs are at full capacity, and vaccination rates remain below two percent” in Syria.

Read more: Syrians face common enemy across frontlines: Surging cases of COVID-19

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