As of October 13, 2020, the Syrian Ministry of Health (MoH) has reported 4,826 COVID-19 cases across Syria: 3,231 active, 1,364 recoveries and 231 registered deaths. The first positive case was announced on 22 March 2020, with the first fatality reported on 29 March 2020.
Highlighting the particular risks faced by healthcare workers, according to the Syrian MoH, 143 healthcare workers have tested positive for COVID-19. This includes 59 in Damascus30 in Lattakia; 14 in Rural Damascus; 9 in Aleppo; 7 in Hama;6 each in Quneitra, Tartous and Dara’a; 3 in Al-Hassakeh; 2 in As-Sweida; and 1 in Homs. Of particular concern, 11 healthcare workers are reported to have died, on the 3rd of September.
The steady increase in affected healthcare workers reported since July underscores Syria’s fragile healthcare system with already insufficient numbers of qualified healthcare personnel, and the potential for its overstretched healthcare capacity to be further compromised. Humanitarian actors continue to receive reports that healthcare workers in some areas do not have sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE).
Even while the current official numbers remain relatively low, it is clear the epidemiological situation in Syria has rapidly evolved. Since July, official numbers have risen sharply; including a peak of more than 1,600 confirmed cases (around half the current total) in August.
An inter-agency socio-economic impact assessment of COVID-19 has been completed. Findings indicate a major economic downturn and significant social impacts, amplified by the ongoing financial crisis in Lebanon. As a result of the multiple crises (including but not solely COVID-19), it is estimated that 200,000-300,000 jobs were permanently lost. The informal sector and businesses have been heavily impacted, with 15 percent of small and medium sized businesses reporting permanent closure. In addition, remittances on which many families heavily rely, are estimated to have reduced up to 50 percent. In effort to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts, and as a supplementation to the health and humanitarian response, the UN in Syria has developed a framework for the Immediate Socio-Economic Response to COVID-19’. The socio-economic response to COVID-19 is a multi-agency effort that focuses on five priority impact areas: health; social protection; economic activity and jobs; macroeconomic management; and community resilience and thus giving a structure to guide the formulation of national response plans.