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COVID-19 Response Update No.05

HIGHLIGHTS                                                                  

As of 5 June, the Syrian Ministry of Health (MoH) confirmed 123 people with COVID-19, including six people who died and 53 who recovered.
As of 29 May, six people with COVID-19 were reported in north-east Syria (NES), including one death and five people who recovered.   
In north-west Syria (NWS) of a total of 735 samples tested negative using polymerase chain reaction (PCR), as of 31 May.
As of 26 May, approximately 4,880 COVID-19 tests have been performed in laboratories in Damascus, Aleppo, Homs and Lattakia governorates. The enhancement of laboratory and case investigation capacity across Syria remains a priority, as does the timely communication of all information relevant to the safeguarding of public health.
Socio-economic impacts of COVID-19, notably in food security and livelihoods, are likely to exacerbate existing substantial humanitarian needs across Syria.

SITUATION OVERVIEW

To date, the Syrian MoH has reported 123 people with COVID-19 across Syria, including one case in Dar’a Governorate, 80 in Damascus, 34 in Rural Damascus, two cases in As-Sweida’a Governorate, five cases in Homs Governorate, and one case in Lattakia Governorate. The first positive case was announced on 22 March, with the first fatality reported on 29 March. Of the cases announced to date, 84 cases were imported, including Syrian nationals recently repatriated from Kuwait (47), the United Arab Emirates (UAE) (11), Sudan (11), and Russia (5).

Of the six fatalities in Government of Syria (GoS)-controlled areas, five were in Damascus and one in Rural Damascus. To date, the Syrian MoH has announced 53 recoveries.

As of 26 May, some 4,300 tests have been conducted by the Central Public Health Laboratory (CPHL) in Damascus, with an additional 63 tests by the public health laboratories in Aleppo, 335 in Lattakia and 185 in Homs. It remains a priority to enhance laboratory and case investigation capacity across Syria, including training of laboratory technicians and rapid response teams (RRTs).

As of 29 May there have been six reported cases of COVID-19 in NES, including one death and five cases which have since recovered; all from the same cluster in Hassakeh city

As of 31 May, 735 samples from patients were collected in NWS. Of these, 345 were from Aleppo Governorate and 390 from Idleb Governorate through the Early Warning, Alert and Response Network (EWARN) system, and tested in a laboratory in Idelb. All tested negative. The NWS WHO COVID-19 Task Force (TF) is prioritizing the expansion of testing to high-risk groups, such as newly diagnosed TB patients.

Meanwhile, the economic impact of COVID-19 continues to be felt across Syria. Although prices and availability fluctuate, overall significant price increases and some shortages in basic goods (on average 40-50 per cent in food staples) and personal sterilization items (on average 300 per cent increase) have been reported since mid-March, while fuel prices (both diesel and gas) are on the rise, costing more than 115 per cent and 337 per cent respectively in the informal market, compared to the formal, government-subsidized prices.

The informal exchange rate has deteriorated further over the reporting period, weakening to its lowest point on record (over Syrian Pound (SYP) 1,850 on 19 May); although it had recovered slightly at around SYP 1,750 at the time of reporting.  On 26 March, the Central Bank of Syria adjusted the official rate from SYP 438 to SYP 704 (a 61 per cent devaluation), however, the GoS Ministry of Trade retains access to the former rate to enable cheaper purchases of basic commodities.

Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, an estimated 80 per cent of people in Syria already lived below the poverty line, with high levels of food insecurity. Some 9.3 million people in Syria are now considered food insecure; an increase 1.4 million in the past six months. WFP’s national average reference food basket in April was reported at SYP 50,962 – the highest ever recorded price for Syria; a 111 per cent increase over 12 months. This increase, combined with diminished employment opportunities due to COVID-19-related factors, is likely to exacerbate overall food insecurity further.

According to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor (MoSAL), over 320,000 people registered for the National Campaign for Emergency Social Response for assistance due to work lost as a result of COVID-19 preventive measures. Of these, 91 per cent were daily labourers, 10.9 per cent were older persons, and 8 per cent were people with disabilities. The highest levels of registration were in Rural Damascus, followed by Damascus, As-Sweida, Lattakia and Homs.

Operation(s)/ Webspace(s): 
Organization(s): 
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
World Health Organization
Cluster(s)/Sector(s): 
Original Publication Date: 
05 Jun 2020
Document type: 
Situation Report
Disaster(s)/Emergency: 
Syria: Crisis 2011-2020