As of July 7, 2020, the Syrian Ministry of Health (MoH) has reported 372 COVID-19 cases across Syria: 232 active, 126 recoveries and 14 registered deaths. The first positive case was announced on 22 March 2020, with the first fatality reported on 29 March 2020. Although no movement restrictions have been imposed in Syria recently, the Syrian government is still taking active steps towards ensuring that precautionary measures are followed in public service facilities and universities.
The ongoing economic crisis has exacerbated humanitarian needs of the more than 11 million people across Syria in need. The poverty rate is over 90 percent. With the official exchange rate being 1,250 SYP for each USD1.00, the collapse of Syria’s currency has compounded the crisis and continues to plunge more people into poverty. Unemployment is also high and exacerbated by restrictions to contain COVID-19. There are reports of Syrians obliged to borrow money to meet basic needs and eat less. Prices for food staples such as rice, sugar, flour have also seen high increases in the local markets. The national average food basket in June (SYP 84,095), is up 153% compared to December 2019. Nine years of crisis have stretched livelihoods and services to the breaking point, especially in underserved and overburdened communities. Those who are displaced are facing a protection and poverty crisis, exacerbated by COVID-19. Millions of displaced people have lost their livelihoods, are taking on debt and are increasingly unable to meet their basic needs due to the regional economic crisis and the impact of COVID-19. There is increased risk of child labour, genderbased violence, early marriage and other forms of exploitation. Displaced people in camps or camp-like situations face additional risks as it may be difficult to practice regular handwashing, physical distancing and other key public health measures. Restrictions on movement and limitations on commercial activities in some areas of North-West Syria (NWS) and North-East Syria (NES), including on markets which had been introduced as a public safety measure to counter the spread of COVID-19, have contributed to the intensification of humanitarian needs, as well as the overall impact of the pandemic on the local economy.
While humanitarian actors have adapted their activities and procedures to mitigate COVID-19 related risks, certain activities had to be suspended to protect the affected population, as well as humanitarian workers.
Although reproductive health services, as well as essential Gender-Based Violence services are now more accessible than in previous months due to lifted restrictions, the pandemic is still severely disrupting access. People affected by humanitarian crises, particularly those displaced and/or living in camps and camp-like settings, are faced with challenges accessing health services that were otherwise available before the COVID-19 outbreak. Those who are most at risk and in need of immediate humanitarian assistance include pregnant and lactating women, widows, children, people with disabilities and people with chronic diseases.