An accelerating number of new cases of COVID-19/Coronavirus have been recorded in North and East Syria, according to a statement on Monday by the Health Authority of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES). This brings the total number of COVID infections in North and East Syria to 1,918 cases, of which 69 have died, and 496 have recovered. This represents a dangerous phase in the region’s Coronavirus crisis, with more and more new cases being reported daily.

The Health Authority indicated in its statement that the Coronavirus infections within the region are distributed as follows:

  • 11 new cases in al-Hasakah
  • 11 new cases in Kobani (Ayn al-Arab) 
  • 22 new cases in al-Raqqa
  • 7 new cases in the temple of Karki Laki 
  • 10 new cases in al-Malikiyah (Dirk)
  • 4 new cases in Manbij 
  • 9 new cases in Tabqa
  • 3 new cases in Qamishli

The surge in the number of new Coronavirus cases in North and East Syria is alarming health officials and spurring new social distance and hygiene measures. Prior to August 2020, North and East Syria had successfully averted an outbreak, thanks to lockdown measures taken by the AANES. The regional authority had issued strict stay-home orders, as well as implemented mask requirements, social distancing guidelines, and public sanitization procedures.

However, experts had been issuing warnings of the vulnerable state of North and East Syria since the start of the pandemic. Despite significant efforts toward virus preparedness and prevention, the region does not have enough trained medical personnel, testing machines, pharmaceutical or medical resources, personal protective equipment, or health facilities. Furthermore the high levels of displacement, refugees, poverty, and unemployment create dangerous conditions for viral transmission. Hundreds of thousands of displaced people living in camps and provisional facilities have no way to social distance and no capacity for hygiene measures.

Coronavirus prevention has been especially difficult since May and June when the already-troubled Syrian economy was sent into a downward spiral. Many people can scarcely afford food, which has increased by more than 200 percent since last year. Everyday Syrians cannot afford face masks. 

In order to verify each case with a near 100 percent accuracy, each positive case in the AANES region is tested a second time, which greatly increases accuracy but causes delay in the testing process. Overall, there is very little testing occurring in North and East Syria, as there is only one PCR testing machine in North and East Syria with results being accepted by the World Health Organization (WHO), in Qamishli.