Syrians who defeated ISIS left with no coronavirus testing kits

The poor and isolated region of eastern Syria lacks the ability to test for the coronavirus and does not have the hospital capacity to deal with an outbreak, the Jerusalem Post said on Thursday.

The U.S. -backed Syrian Democratic Forces in the region defeated Islamic State (ISIS), but the international community and the Syrian government have still denied the population there the right to healthcare, said the Jerusalem Post.

The only coronavirus test centre in Syria is in Damascus, a local doctor said. “It’s hard for us to send samples to the Syrian government areas,” the doctor said.

The region, recovering from ISIS attacks and Turkey’s military interventions, does not have enough ventilators in hospitals. There are only an estimated 150 ventilators for two million people, said the Jerusalem Post.

Turkey has blockaded the region, continuing to cut off water and other resources. The 70,000 inhabitants of al-Hol refugee camp, where internally displaced people and some ISIS families are being held, face a looming crisis under quarantine. 

There are also concerns that the virus could be spread from neighbouring Iraq or Iran, which has been hit hard by a coronavirus outbreak, and that the United States is more concerned about protecting its own soldiers from the virus, does not appear to have contingencies in place for locals and has withdrawn much of its aid from the region.  

“As the international community looks inward, and the EU, U.S. and other states close their borders, eastern Syria appears to have been largely abandoned during the global pandemic,” said the Jerusalem Post.