On Tuesday, the director of al-Salam Hospital in the northeastern Syrian city of Qamishli, Dr. Furat Maqdesi, appealed to the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) to provide aid to private hospitals in the area to confront the potential of the outbreak of coronavirus.
Hospitals in the city suffer from a severe shortage of sterilization equipment and medication to combat the lethal virus, which is now sweeping the world and spreading from one country to another.
Although the official authorities did not report any case of virus infection in northeastern Syria, Maqdesi pointed out that, “the war now is between the medical staff and coronavirus,” saying: “The area has highly qualified medical staff, but it lacks equipment to face this epidemic.”
He added, “A doctor cannot face any medical problem without advanced equipment and devices, especially for coronavirus, which is known for its rapid spread and attack on the respiratory and immune systems,” he added.
After the curfew decision issued by the Autonomous Administration a week ago, and the closure of private medical clinics, the demand for hospitals has become great, “We only receive heart-related and critical emergency cases to avoid crowding in the hospital,” according to Maqdesi.
There are 10 private hospitals in Qamishli, and in light of the limited capabilities, those in charge say that hospitals are sterilized throughout the day, and medical personnel take all precautions by wearing masks, gloves, and clothing intended for sterilization to avoid the transmission of any possible infection.
Last Friday, the Health Board in North and East Syria appealed to the UN for rapid action in order to help it in light of the “critical” conditions in the area, as a result of the outbreak of coronavirus in the neighboring countries.
This came in a report presented to the UN Special Envoy to Syria, Geir Pedersen, in which it described the health situation in the northeastern regions of Syria, the region's shortage of specialists and loss of medical equipment as a result of the Turkish forces' and their opposition groups' attacks on the region, and the prohibition of many international organizations from supporting the health sector to the region.
The report drew attention to a significant shortage of necessary supplies and capabilities to cope with the outbreak of COVID-19, and to treat the infected, such as large and well-equipped medical centers, intensive care units (ICU), and laboratories that include PCR devices to detect infection with coronavirus, as this equipment is not available in the area.
In this context, the report stated that, “In all of northeastern Syria, which contains about 5 million people, we only have 27 ICUs, and 5 devices for CT scans. Also, personal protection requirements such as gloves, masks, protective clothing, sterilizers, and medicines we need to treat people infected with coronavirus are not available.”