Human rights organizations are raising the alarm about the spread of the coronavirus in Syria. Authorities in the war-torn civil country have reported 6,700 infections, but the real number of patients with the virus is likely to be much higher.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says it has learned through “reliable medical sources” in government territory that over 60,000 infections have been identified, nearly ten times the official number.
According to that information, more than 17,000 people have recovered, and 3,220 patients have died. Most of the infections and deaths have been reported in Aleppo, Damascus and Rif Dimashq.
In Syria, fierce fighting has been going on for almost a decade, which has had a dramatic impact on healthcare. Some hospitals have been bombed, and many medical facilities are facing staff, equipment or pharmaceutical shortages. Testing for the virus would also be limited.
Amnesty International says hospitals have been forced to send patients away due to shortages of beds and equipment. Some desperate people would have to pay “exorbitant sums” to rent oxygen tanks and respirators.
The organization says the Syrian government is failing to protect medical personnel adequately and is not transparent about the scale of the outbreak.
For years, a bloody conflict raged in Syria. Meanwhile, President Bashar al-Assad’s army has regained most of the country. Assad would like to see the millions of Syrians who have fled abroad return, but some countries still consider it too unsafe in Syria.