WHO: Testing for coronavirus has started in Syria's embattled Idlib


The World Health Organisation (WHO) said this week that systematic testing for coronavirus had started in Syria's last rebel stronghold, the north-western province of Idlib.  

Testing began "after a shipment of 300 tests reached a member of the World Health Organisation's Health cluster. The first four tests came back negative," the UN agency said in a statement. "Some 600 additional tests will reach the laboratory in Idlib tomorrow; on 26 March, and a shipment of 5,000 tests is scheduled to arrive in Idlib next week."

The UN agency said it was shipping 10,000 gloves, 1,200 gowns, 10,500 masks, 200 goggles and 900 face shields to north-western Syria.  

"Personal protective equipment has already been distributed to 21 health care facilities" to deal with any outbreak of Covid-19, the agency said.

UN envoy Geir Pedersen on Tuesday called on Syria's warring parties to implement a ceasefire immediately, across the whole country, to focus efforts on fighting the deadly Covid-19 disease caused by the coronavirus.

The Syrian government has so far announced that there are four coronavirus infections in areas under its control.

The fragile ceasefires in the north-western Idlib region as well as in the north-east should be expanded across the entire country, Pedersen said in his statement.

Russia, a main ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has been working with Turkey, which backs the rebels, in recent months to maintain a truce in Idlib, near the Turkish border. The violence in Idlib has displaced nearly 1 million people who set up refugee camps in areas near the Syrian-Turkish border.

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