The epidemiological surveillance laboratory of the early warning, alert and response network (EWARN) in Idlib governorate declared the first positive test of coronavirus Covid-19 in north Syria on July 9, 2020, at the same time as the Syrian American Medical Association (SAMS) confirmed the first case of the pandemic in a doctor amongst its personnel working in the Bab al Hawa Hospital, which is supported by SAMS, adding that it had responded and take all necessary measures to prevent the pandemic from spreading.
SNHR considers the appearance of the first case of novel coronavirus to signal a negative and dangerous development in northwestern Syria which is a densely populated area as a result of the displacement of residents from several villages and cities that were attacked and subjected to indiscriminate bombing by the Syrian regime and its Russian ally. The IDPs are the worst affected group in Syrian society, having lost their homes and jobs, with most now living within a random assortment camps in structures unequipped with even basic amenities and with a total lack of health infrastructure. Additionally, the healthcare system in northwest Syria is unable to fulfill the requirements of 4 million of civilians living in the area in which Syrian- Russian alliance forces have deliberately targeted the hospitals and health centers, putting a large number of these out of service.
The confirmation of the first case of COVID-19 in this area was made at the same time as the announcement of Russia and China using their veto in the UN Security Council on July 7, 2020, against the German-Belgian draft resolution to extend the delivery of humanitarian relief across borders, a move which sets a dangerous precedent for the delivery of humanitarian aid, even by the UN’s neutral Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. At the same time, the aid which is delivered is seized by the Syrian regime which loots the majority of aid donated. The SNHR stated in a previous report that cross-border aid delivery must not be subject to intervention or the whim of the Security Council and should continue across borders in cases where the governing regime is involved in crimes against humanity through displacement and by the looting of aid which will harm millions of IDPs. We also note that even while Russia, China and other totalitarian states are calling for the lifting of sanctions imposed on Syria under the pretext of supposedly fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, they are simultaneously using their UN veto against neutral humanitarian aid.