Covid-19 Update: China to Donate 150,000 Vaccines to Syrian Government

The Covid-19 pandemic continued to spread at a steady pace last week, with 540 new cases recorded, up from 536 the previous week. The week before, 694 new cases had been reported.

While the number of confirmed positive cases is relatively small, Syria’s official statistics do not reflect the actual situation in the country given its low testing capacity, meaning the real number of infections is likely much higher.

According to official data published by the parties controlling Syria’s three main territories, the total number of positive cases stands at 44,132 since the start of the pandemic, up from 43,592 cases last week. These include 16,001 active cases, 26,470 recoveries, and 1,661 fatalities.

The following are the main updates throughout the three main territories in the country:

Government areas

  • In government areas, 455 new positive cases were recorded, raising the total number of positive cases to 14,551, up from 14,096 the previous week. These include 5,380 active cases, 8,213 recoveries, and 958 fatalities.
     
  • On February 04, the Chinese ambassador to Syria, Feng Biao, told the pro-government newspaper Al-Watan Online that China would send 150,000 vaccines to Syria, in addition to equipment and goods including 20 ventilators and 750 tons of rice. The vaccines require two doses, and therefore can only treat 75,000 people. Despite the relatively low number of doses, however, the move was notable given that Syria’s key ally Russia has not made any similar moves, despite its forces in Syria taking the vaccines weeks ago.
     
  • The number of tests conducted by the Ministry of Health has not been updated since last month, when they stood at just 91,379 tests, with a daily average of around 550 tests per day.

Northeastern areas

  • Areas controlled by the Autonomous Administration in North and East Syria (AANES) recorded 50 new positive cases, bringing the total number to 8,540 from 8,490 last week. These include 7,022 active cases, 1,222 recoveries, and 296 fatalities.
     
  • On February 04, the AANES announced it was cancelling the partial curfew and lockdown it imposed weeks ago to confront the pandemic. It did not explain its decision, which was unusual given that the pandemic appears to be continuing to spread.

Northern and northwestern areas

  • Another 35 cases were recorded in areas controlled by the Syrian Salvation Government (SSG) and the Syrian Interim Government (SIG). This brought the total positive cases to 21,041, up from 21,006 cases the previous week, including 3,599 active cases, 17,035 recoveries, and 407 fatalities.
     
  • On February 05, the Turkish-backed SIG’s Prime Minister AbdulRahman Mustafa told the Anadolu Agency that the government opposed distributing vaccines in opposition areas if they came via the regime, which has recently submitted a proposal to COVAX, a global initiative to ensure equitable access to vaccines. Mr Mustafa said they had several donors ready to finance vaccination campaigns.
     
  • So far, 86,853 tests have been conducted in opposition areas in northern Syria.

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