Nepal | May 30, 2020

Syria reports first coronavirus death as fear grow of major outbreak

Reuters
Share Now:

AMMAN: Syria’s health ministry said on Sunday that a woman who died after being rushed to hospital for emergency treatment was found to have been infected by coronavirus in the country’s first officially reported death from the disease.

Syria also said its confirmed cases rose to nine from an earlier five cases, but medics and witnesses say there are many more. Officials deny a cover-up but have imposed a lockdown and draconian measures including a nationwide night curfew to stem the pandemic.

The moves to shut businesses, schools, universities, mosques and most government offices, as well as stop public transport, have spread fear among war-weary residents.

Several cities saw panic buying, with residents saying they saw food shortages and a surge in demand that pushed up prices ahead of the start of the curfew.

The United Nations says the country is at high risk of a major outbreak because of a fragile health system devastated by a nine-year war and lack of sufficient equipment to detect the virus, alongside large numbers of vulnerable people.

The World Health Organisation has warned that the country has a limited capacity to deal with a rapid spread of the virus.

On Sunday, the army announced an end to a call-up of army reserves. It has already ended conscription in what military defectors said was an attempt to prevent the spread of the virus among the rank and file.

The government also banned movement of people between governates. Security forces manned checkpoints around provincial cities and only allowed army vehicles and essential services to pass, witnesses said.

Opposition figures and independent politicians point to Damascus’ strong ties with Iran, the worst affected country in the region, as a source of possible contagion.

They say the virus is also being transmitted by members of Iranian-backed militias who are fighting alongside the Syrian army, as well as Shi’ite pilgrims who visit shrines in Syria.

Western intelligence sources say Iran’s proxy Shi’ite militias continue to cross the Qaim border crossing between Iraq and Syria, where they have a strong presence across the country.

Senior Syrian army officers have in recent days taken leave of absence and been ordered not to mingle with the Iranian-backed militias, military defectors say.

Syrian officials said Damascus airport has halted commercial flights, and the government has also ordered the closure of its main border crossings with neighbouring states.

Thousands of Shi’ite pilgrims have been arriving in Syria to visit the Sayeda Zainab shrine in Damascus, a neighbourhood that also houses the main headquarters of the Iranian-backed militias.

Iraqi health officials confirmed on Sunday that returning Shi’ite pilgrims from Syria have tested positive for the coronavirus, raising concern that such travel could be a source for a wider spread of the disease.


Follow The Himalayan Times on Twitter and Facebook

Recommended Stories:

More from The Himalayan Times:

Are we doing enough for the mental health of healthcare workers?

The number of coronavirus patients has been increasing over the past few days in Nepal. In the current scenario, it seems like the numbers would further increase in the coming days. Given that healthcare workers and frontline staff are the first responders to manage the ongoing pandemic with limited Read More...

Italy's Serie A gets green light for June 20 restart

Sports minister Spadafora says top-flight soccer can resume Italian Cup matches could be staged before league restarts Serie A will be fourth of Europe's top five leagues to return Juventus hold one point lead over Lazio with 12 games left ROME: Italy's top-flight Serie A soccer le Read More...

English Premier League announces June 17 restart

League to resume season subject to safety requirements Starts with Villa v Sheffield Utd and Man City v Arsenal Full fixture list scheduled for weekend of June 19-21 All of the remaining 92 fixtures to be broadcast live MANCHESTER, ENGLAND: The Premier League season will restart Read More...

UN, AI demand impartial probe into Rukum incident

Kathmandu, May 28 The attention of United Nations in Nepal has been drawn to the incident in Rukum (west), where five Dalit youths lost their lives and two went missing when the Dalit youths were chased by a group of villagers. The Dalit youths had gone to the village to help their friend marry a Read More...

‘Nepali Congress will support new map of Nepal’

Kathmandu, May 28 Nepali Congress Spokesperson Bishwa Prakash Sharma said at a press conference today that his party would stand in favour of the newly issued country’s map when the issue would come up in the Parliament but the party had reserved the right to take an organisational decision on Read More...

SC rules lockdown time as zero period  

Kathmandu, May 28   The Supreme Court today ruled that the period between March 22 and the time when the lockdown would end should be considered zero period for those whose deadline for filing or contesting cases or joining court proceedings had lapsed.   The grand Full bench of the apex Read More...

Zuckerberg distances Facebook from Twitter in Trump fight

SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg took pains to distance his company from Twitter and its fight with US President Donald Trump on Thursday, as the White House moved to scrap a law protecting social media companies. Republican Trump, who accuses social media firms of b Read More...

Budget size reduced by 3.8pc to Rs 1.47 trillion

Due priority given to health, employment generation and relief for crisis-hit businesses Khatiwada sets 7pc growth target for next fiscal Kathmandu, May 28 Amid uncertainties due to the spread of COVID-19 in the country, Finance Minister Yubaraj Khatiwada today unveiled a federal budget Read More...