Syria: iMMAP/DFS COVID-19 Situation Analysis (May 2021)

Originally published




By 31 May, more than 66,0001 positive COVID-19 cases were recorded across Syria (370 per 100,000) (WHO Syria Dashboard, WHO NWS Dashboard, NES COVID-19 Dashboard 31/05/2021), up from 60,800 registered at end of April, and with a common assumption that cases detected and reported are only a small proportion of the actual figures.

Government-held areas:

By the end of May a total of 24,496 cases (175 per 100,000) were reported in GoS-controlled areas of which 1,770 have died (Syrian Arab News Agency 01/06/2021). As it stands, the case fatality rate of approximately 7.3% is significantly higher than every other country in the region with the exceptions of Sudan and Yemen. The high case fatality ratio may be partially explained by delays in seeking treatment and a focus on testing only those who present with more severe symptoms at healthcare facilities. Approximately 4% of all recorded cases so far have been among health workers with the majority of infections taking place in Damascus, Lattakia and Aleppo governorates (WHO Syria Dashboard, WHO EMRO 31/05/2021). Compared to the previous month, a decrease in the rate of newly reported cases in GoS-held areas was observed towards the end of April, a trend that continued throughout the entire month of May, with daily reported cases ranging from 27 to 81 (WHO Syria Dashboard 31/05/2021)

Northwest Syria:

As of 31 May, the number of confirmed cases in the northwest stood at 23,541 cases, with a sizeable increase in the number of new cases reaching 1,453 recorded in May compared to 665 recorded in April (WHO NWS Dashboard 31/05/2021, ACU 31/05/2021). In the northwest, overcrowding and lack of camp management remain major challenges in the fight against the pandemic in IDP sites, as of 8 May 10% of all confirmed cases in northwest Syria were from camps (UNHCR 01/06/2021). The overall positivity rate since July 2020 has been approximately 18% (WHO NWS Dashboard 30/04/2021).

Northeast Syria:

As of the end of May, the number of confirmed cases by authorities was 17,820 cases (790 per 100,000) including 1,027 cases among health workers, and 767 deaths (NES COVID-19 Dashboard 31/05/2021). Reported cases continue to be most frequent in Ar-Raqqa and Al-Hassakeh governorates. While the positivity rate has dropped from approximately 43% in April to 32% by the end of May, only 5,890 tests were conducted in May compared to 13,305 in April (NES COVID-19 Dashboard 31/05/2021). This relative drop in testing rates is more likely due the limited availability of testing equipment. As such, there continues to be a growing concern that the true number of COVID-19 cases may be much higher than the reported figures.The region continues to lack essential health supplies, including to prevent, test and treat COVID infections. Notably, after a 57% increase in confirmed cases between March and April, recorded deaths from COVID-19 have increased by nearly 50% in May (OCHA 26/05/2021).