Syria Reports First Confirmed Case of Coronavirus
Syrian Health Minister Nizar al-Yaziji says “necessary measures” have been taken with regard to a 20-year-old woman with the country’s first officially confirmed case of coronavirus. While the pandemic spread in all neighboring countries, officials in Syria – whose brutal civil war entered its tenth year in mid-March – were steadily denying that coronavirus was present, leaving opposition figures to scoff at the notion. Much of the country’s health system, especially in the northwestern Idlib Province, where an offensive against some of the war’s last rebel holdouts began in December, is in shambles. The government, which already had closed schools, restaurants and public spaces in light of the coronavirus threat, on Sunday stopped all public transportation. President Bashar Assad also issued an amnesty to some prisoners to thin out the population of his jails. According to the Reuters news agency, military defectors say some army commanders have ordered troops to maintain physical distance from Iranian militia members in the country to boost the Assad regime. Iran is considered the epicenter for coronavirus in the region, with 1,685 confirmed deaths as of Sunday, and militia members are reportedly still entering Syria via Iraq.