Syrian Arab Republic: COVID-19 Update No. 06 - 17 April 2020


This report is produced by OCHA Syria in Damascus in collaboration with WHO Syria and Damascus-based humanitarian partners, and does not reflect cross-border operations. The next report will be issued on or around 24 April 2020.


• Number of people confirmed by the Ministry of Health (MoH) to have COVID-19: 38 (including two fatalities, five recovered)

• On 16 April, WHO EMRO provided information indicating that a fatality at Qamishli National Hospital in northeast Syria (NES) on 2 April had subsequently tested positive for COVID-19.

• Areas of concern: Densely populated areas, notably Damascus/Rural Damascus, Aleppo and Homs, and those living in camps, and informal settlements in northeast Syria (NES), collective shelters throughout the country, as well as other areas including Deir-Ez-Zor, and where hostilities may be ongoing making sample collection more challenging.

• Populations of concern: All groups are susceptible to the virus. However, the elderly (those 60 years and above) and people with underlying health conditions are particularly at risk; as are vulnerable refugee and IDP populations and healthcare workers with inadequate personal protective equipment (PPE).

• The enhancement of laboratory and case investigation capacity across Syria, including training of laboratory technicians and rapid response teams (RRTs) remains a priority. The UN has pledged its support to assist the MoH achieve its stated goal to have testing capacity in all 14 governorates.


The global situation remains highly fluid. However, at the time of writing, 2,078,605 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID19, including 139,515 deaths (CFR=6.7 per cent) had been reported globally. The United States has the most confirmed cases globally (632,781) and the most deaths to date (28,221). In the Eastern Mediterranean Region, more than 114,910 COVID-19 cases have been reported, including 5,364 deaths, almost 90 per cent of which occurred in Iran.

In Syria, 38 laboratory-confirmed cases have been reported by authorities to date. The first positive case was announced on 22 March, with the first fatality reported on 29 March. One further fatality was reported on 30 March. The most recent cases were announced by the MoH on 17 April. The MoH has also announced five recoveries to date. On 16 April, WHO EMRO shared information indicating that a 53-year-old man from Al-Hasakeh City who had been admitted to Qamishli National Hospital on 27 March, had sadly died on 2 April. A COVID-19 test for the patient was reported as having subsequently tested positive; another family member is currently reportedly also in hospital with symptoms of COVID-19 with test results pending. Active surveillance is ongoing in NES to detect additional potential cases.

As of 15 April, according to the MoH, around 1,200 tests have been conducted by the Central Public Health Laboratory (CPHL) in Damascus, including 19 from Deir-Ez-Zor and 17 from Al-Hasakeh governorates. It remains a priority to enhance laboratory and case investigation capacity across Syria, including training of laboratory technicians and rapid response teams (RRTs).

Points of Entry

Border crossings remain impacted as Syria and neighboring countries continue implementation of precautionary measures.

Most land borders into Syria are now closed, with some limited exemptions remaining (from Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon) for commercial and relief shipments, and movement of humanitarian and international organization personnel. International and domestic commercial flights remain suspended, although on 15 April a flight arrived at Damascus International Airport containing 2,016 COVID-19 test kits from the People's Republic of China (PRC). Additional donations are expected to arrive from the PRC over the coming weeks.

Tartous and Lattakia ports remain operational, with precautionary measures which have slowed down operations, including mandatory sterilization procedures, and minimum staff.

In NES, local authorities have recently relaxed the controls on the Fishkabour/Semalka informal border crossing to enable access for NGOs once a week. Tell Abiad and Al-Bukamal-Al Quaem border crossings are reported partially open for some commercial and humanitarian shipments, while Ras al-Ain border crossing is closed.
Restrictions are also in place at most other crossing points inside Syria. Abu Zendin, Um Jloud and Awn Dadat in Aleppo are reported closed, as are Akeirshi and Abu Assi crossing points in Ar-Raqqa. Al-Taiha, Ghazawiyet Afrin and Deir Ballut in Aleppo, and Bab Al Hawa in Idleb, are reported as partially open with restrictions.


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