UN: Known COVID-19 cases in Syria 'tip of iceberg'

UN: Known COVID-19 cases in Syria 'tip of iceberg'
The ten confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection in Syria are just the “tip of the iceberg” of an outbreak that could have a “devastating impact” on the war-ravaged country, UN aid chief Mark Lowcock warned on Monday (March 30).

Addressing a virtual UN Security Council meeting, Lowcock, the under-secretary general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, said the known cases in Syria, including one confirmed death, were likely an undercount.

“Judging from other places, that is the tip of the iceberg. The virus has the potential to have a devastating impact on vulnerable communities across the country,” Lowcock told council members during an online meeting amid New York’s own coronavirus outbreak.

“Syria’s health services are extremely fragile. Only around half of its hospitals and primary healthcare centers were fully functional at the end of last year.”

Lowcock’s concerns were echoed by Geir Pedersen, the UN’s special peace envoy to Syria, who said that nine years of fighting has reduced much of the country’s infrastructure to rubble.

“Governance is weak or even absent in some areas. Years of conflict have left the healthcare system degraded or destroyed. Health professionals, medical equipment and supplies are desperately lacking,” said Pedersen.

The meeting was held online as UN headquarters has not been spared New York City’s lockdown amid a virulent outbreak of the novel coronavirus, which has claimed more than 1,200 lives across the state.

Based on AA

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