Syrian Arab Republic: COVID-19 Update No. 02 - 11 March 2020

Situation Report
Originally published


This report is produced by OCHA Syria in collaboration with WHO Syria and humanitarian partners. The next report will be issued on or around 18 March 2020.


  • Confirmed Cases: 0

  • WHO global risk assessment: Very High

  • Areas of concern – Damascus/Rural Damascus, densely populated areas and those experiencing hostilities where sample collection may be more challenging, as well as where mass gatherings typically occur.

  • Populations of concern – all groups are susceptible to the virus but the elderly and people with a travel history to countries/areas or territories reporting local transmission of COVID-19 are particularly at risk.

The basic principles to reduce the general risk of transmission of acute respiratory infections include the following:

  • Avoid close contact with people suffering from acute respiratory infections.

  • Wash hands frequently, especially after direct contact with ill people or their environment.

  • Avoid unprotected contact with farm or wild animals.

  • People with symptoms of acute respiratory infection should practice cough etiquette (maintain distance, cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues or clothing, and wash hands).

  • In case of symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness either during or after travel, travelers are encouraged to seek medical attention and share their travel history with their health care provider.


On 11 March, WHO officially declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Across 110 countries, 113,851 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 have now been reported, including 4,015 associated deaths (CFR=3.5 per cent), of which 892 are from outside China (CFR=2.6 per cent). In the past 24 hours, five countries have reported cases for the first time: Brunei Darussalam, Cyprus, Guernsey, Mongolia, and Panama; in addition, at the time of writing, Turkey had just announced its first confirmed case. Data to date suggests that 80 per cent of COVID-19 infections are mild or asymptomatic, 15 per cent result in severe infection requiring oxygen, and 5 per cent are critical infections requiring ventilation. In the Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR), 8,579 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in 16 countries, including 299 deaths. Iran represents 95 per cent of cases recorded in the region and 97 per cent of all deaths, with cases exported to Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Local transmission cases have been confirmed in Egypt, Iran and UAE. To date, Iran has registered 291 deaths, Iraq six, Egypt one and Lebanon one. In Syria, the Ministry of Health (MoH) has tested 34 cases for COVID-19, all of which were negative.

Based on the current epidemiological situation in the EMR, with the rapid spread of cases in neighboring countries, including those that border Syria, the risk to Syria is considered very high. Additional risk factors include:

  • Large number of vulnerable people, including IDPs and refugees;

  • Large-scale population movement including religious tourism;

  • Fragile public health system with a limited-moderate response capacity – preparedness and response capacity is considered as level 2 out of 5 (based on International Health Regulations annual report 2019), where 5 is the highest capacity, indicating a limited capacity that requires technical and operational support.

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