Coronavirus: first cases in Al-Hol displaced persons camp in Syria

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Three caregivers working in the Al-Hol displaced persons camp in northeastern Syria have contracted the new coronavirus, the United Nations announced Thursday, announcing the first infections officially identified in this overcrowded place.

• Read also: All the developments of the pandemic

The sprawling Al-Hol camp is home to tens of thousands of displaced people, including families from the jihadist group Islamic State (IS).

It is run by the semi-autonomous Kurdish administration which controls much of northeastern Syria and has registered a total of 54 COVID-19 patients in the region.

“On August 3, three caregivers tested positive for COVID-19 in the Al-Hol IDP camp,” said David Swanson, a spokesperson for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha) of the ‘UN.

“The contact tracing process (of patients) is underway. As a precautionary measure, only emergency workers, equipped with protection, are allowed to work in the camp, ”he added to AFP.

A health representative from the camp who requested anonymity said the three infected caregivers worked for the Kurdish Red Crescent in Al-Hol.

“We are concerned that camp residents who have visited clinics have been exposed to the virus,” he said.

These contaminations bring to nine the total number of Kurdish Red Crescent caregivers in northeastern Syria to have contracted the new coronavirus, according to a volunteer from the organization who also wishes to remain anonymous.

Nine years of war have devastated Syria’s medical infrastructure, but the situation in the territories controlled by the Kurds is particularly critical, with humanitarian aid to northeastern Syria having been drastically reduced.

The COVID-19 epidemic, which has added to the difficulties of the displaced in the camps, raises fears of a humanitarian disaster.

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