Despite the lack of testing, serious precautions have been taken.
Testing for Coronavirus is not being widely conducted in North and East Syria. Health experts warn that no one is certain how many cases there may be in the country, as war, Turkish occupation, and instability has damaged the health infrastructure of the region. No cases of Coronavirus have been yet reported in the region, likely due to the lack of testing.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has provided “polymer chain reaction” (PCR) machines and test kits to test for Coronavirus to many other impacted regions, and has even sent a PCR machine to Northwest Syria, but the self-governing region of North and East Syria is being totally neglected. Accurate testing for the virus requires the PCR machine. The only functional PCR machines in the region were lost or destroyed during the Turkish invasion of Sere Kaniye in October of last year. Turkey is still occupying several areas of North and East Syria.
Despite the lack of Coronavirus testing, serious precautions have been taken by the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES), in close collaboration with the Kurdish Red Crescent (Heyva Sor), to reduce the spread of the disease. These precautions include the following:
“Shelter in place” directives have been issued to all residents for non-essential travel, starting 6 AM Monday, March 23, 2020. No resident will be permitted to be outside the home, except for essential travel, emergencies, or the purchasing of food.
Celebrations of Newroz, the Kurdish New Year, which were scheduled for March 21, 2020, have been canceled. The New Year celebrations are usually accompanied by large, festive celebrations and feasts, bringing entire villages together.
All restaurants, businesses, meeting places, and centers have been ordered to remain closed, except those offering essential food items, such as bakeries, produce sellers in the markets, and cooking fuel distributors.
Seven quarantine centers have been prepared by the health committees, preparing for future cases of COVID-19. So far no positive cases have emerged.
Travel advisories were issued the week of March 15, 2020, to the people of North and East Syria not to travel to European countries or any country with a serious outbreak.
Since the week of February 24, 2020, the AANES has significantly limited access to its last border crossing at Semalka. When crossings have been necessary for aid work, necessary imports, and other purposes, thorough health screenings have been in effect.
The healthcare infrastructure of North and East Syria has been damaged by nearly a decade of war and conflict, and resource shortages are present in all hospitals, healthcare centers, and clinics. The AANES has put out many requests for international aid during this crisis.