​​​​​​​While Corona infections in Syria, neighboring countries increasing,... What are AA's measures?

With the increase of Coronavirus infections in the Syrian government-controlled areas, as well as in the neighboring countries of Syria, there are increasing fears of residents of northern and eastern Syria about the arrival of the virus in their area. What are the Autonomous Administration (AA) measures to protect the region.

Despite the warnings launched by the United Nations and the World Health Organization, many countries in the world began to lift restrictions imposed to limit the spread of the Corona virus, which may contribute to the return of the virus, threatening the lives of thousands of people, including the population of Syria.

The areas under the control of the Syrian government witnessed during the month of June a remarkable increase in the number of the Corona virus infections, as the number of infected people, according to the Syrian Ministry of Health in its last announcement on June 30, reached 279 cases; 102 of which were cured and 9 cases died.

The Syrian government isolated areas of the country in the villages and towns of "Damascus and Aleppo" due to the outbreak and spread of the virus such as "al-Sayyeda Zainab neighborhood, Menin town, Saadallah al-Jabri square," and according to the Syrian Ministry of Health, the country is on the verge of a new curfew after the current high school exams for the academic year 2019/2020 is finished.

The increase in the number of infections in Syria coincides with infections increase in its neighboring countries such as Iraq and Turkey. In the regions of Başûr Kurdistan (southern Kurdistan) adjacent to the regions of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, the number of infections has increased recently, prompting Başûr government to reactivate the curfew in different regions; "Hewler, Sulaymaniyah, Duhok," prevent movement among the provinces, and also close the Syrian refugee camp in the Region known as "Domiz" camp, south of Duhok governorate.

Avin Sheikhmos from Amouda district says: "Through our follow-up to the media outlets affiliated with the government of Başûr Kurdistan Region, the conditions there are not reassuring, and perhaps we will hear the accuracy of the alarm there soon, as well as the media outlets of the Syrian government, as it has been publishing daily news of new infections, making things predict in danger."

The Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria lifted the curfew imposed as of June 16, and it also re-activated the crossings linking the region with the Syrian government's control areas as well as with southern Kurdistan.

With the spread of the virus in the Syrian areas under the control of the government and the areas of Başûr Kurdistan, the people are increasingly concerned about the arrival of the virus in the region, especially since the crossings with these areas are witnessing a continuous movement, as the areas of the Autonomous Administration receive the comers from Başûr Kurdistan, in addition to the ease of the population's movement among the areas of the Autonomous Administration and the government.

On those concerns, Avin Sheikhmos says: "If the crossings remain open in this way, the risk of spreading the virus in our regions will be very large because we do not know whoever carries this virus when they enter our areas, especially since the virus remains in the body of the infected for more than 15 days without appearing the symptoms of infection, and as our region does not have accurate devices that detect the virus, we must increase the precautionary steps when dealing with or entering people from areas where the disease is prevalent."

The Autonomous Administration's regions witnessed only three cases of the virus, two cases recovered, and the third person lost his life. The credit for not spreading the virus in the region is due to the measures taken by the Autonomous Administration; the general curfew, as well as sterilization operations that covered all the region's cities and towns, equipping health centers and isolation points, in addition to training the medical personnel.

In this context, the media professional Horin Hassen says: "Without doubt, the precautionary measures taken by the Autonomous Administration on March 23rd till lifting the complete curfew on June 16th was a distinguished and commendable act."

She pointed out that reactivating the crossings poses fears and risks in the current stage, saying: "In the previous stage, there were not many cases of infection in Syria and the neighboring countries, and the next stage is the most sensitive, so more preventive measures must be taken in the crossings with regard to those coming from Damascus and other areas to the Autonomous Administration regions."

She added: "Everyone knows that the health infrastructure is fragile and lacks the medical supplies since the beginning of the Syrian crisis until today, so we must move and take the matter seriously."

For his part, the Co-chair of the Health Body in the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria and the Member of the Crisis Cell to Counter the Corona Virus, Dr. Joan Mostafa, agreed with the concerns of the residents about the possibility of a humanitarian catastrophe in the event of the virus infiltrating the region via arrivals through the crossings.

He said: "Due to the holiday and seasons period, all the crossings that link our regions with other regions have witnessed a somewhat indulgence, allowing large numbers to move back and forth to the areas of the Autonomous Administration, but all precautionary and medical procedures remained ongoing, as the arrivals to the area were subjected to medical examinations. Furthermore, our procedures still exist throughout all these crossings."

He added: "The increase in cases of infection in the Kurdistan region of Başûr, the areas of the Syrian government, and other areas with which we have crossings raises our concern about the possibility of the virus entering the region by arrivals, so in the coming period we will re-evaluate the status of these crossings, increase the precautionary measures  as well as preventive measures, as we may reach a stage where we allow only humanitarian and emergency cases to enter northern and eastern Syria."

Mostafa pointed out that the Health Body in the Autonomous Administration is working on preparing a draft project for all north and east of Syria that meets all aspects. It will include all sectors, whether private or public, stipulate how to deal with the new reality and how to reduce this virus, and direct each sector separately in accordance with the instructions of these sectors and not others.

He pointed to the possibility of re-imposing a new curfew in the region, and said that all possibilities are open in the event of increasing the concerns and if necessary, but the greatest work is how to direct and educate the community about protecting itself from the virus, and work to prepare the community to live with the new reality and with the epidemic that may continue endlessly.

The availability of capabilities and the development of medical technology in the countries of the world may contribute in some way to controlling the spread of the virus, but the current reality in the areas of the Autonomous Administration and Syria in general is different to those countries due to the absence of capabilities, the imposed blockade, and the deterioration of the medical infrastructure which may cause a humanitarian catastrophe if the virus spreads in the region.

According to Dr. Joan Mostafa, the Autonomous Administration has received some medical assistance and equipment from the World Health Organization related to precautionary measures to detect and limit the Corona virus.

Mostafa said: "The organization has promised the Administration to train the health teams in the region, regarding the virus, and how to deal with it in the event it appears," noting that the arrival of medical aid to the region is facing great difficulty as a result of the closure of Tel Koçer border crossing on the Syrian-Iraqi border.

The World Health Organization launched a disturbing message in May, in which it said on behalf of the Director of Urgent Health Issues in the Organization, Michael Ryan, at an online press conference in Geneva: "We have a new virus that targets humanity for the first time, so it is very difficult to say when it can be defeated. This virus may become endemic to our societies and may never disappear."

The Corona virus appeared for the first time in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019, and spread quickly in most countries of the world. So far, more than 10.5 million people have been infected and more than half a million died.

D.H

ANHA


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