WHO condemns in the strongest terms, attacks on health care that have been a hallmark of the complex humanitarian crisis in Syria that this month enters its tenth year.
On March 3rd, a 15-member Health cluster task force was formed to prepare a COVID-19 preparedness and response plan, based on eight technical pillars. Since the response is beyond health, OCHA is making sure the inter-cluster nonhealth response is integrated.
On 5th March a three-point ceasefire agreement, between Turkey and Russia was reached and stipulated the creation of a seven-mile (12km) “safety corridor” along Idleb crucial M4 highway, which Russian and Turkish forces would begin patrolling by mid-month.
Testing for COVID-19 started on March 24. As of March 31, a total of 20 samples have been tested; 18 are negative and 2 are pending. while 10 confirmed cases, including two deaths, have been reported by the Government of Syria in Damascus.
By the end of the month, WHO Health Cluster lead COVID-19 Task Force launched a comprehensive preparedness and response plan as working document, with a budget of an estimated $30M for a 3-month critical initial response.
Despite the risk of COVID-19, the most severe emergency needs of recently displaced people continue to be shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene, food and protection.