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Damascus: Inside the emergency department of one of the largest hospitals in Damascus, an old woman, exhausted by the Coronavirus, moans while she waits for a bed in the intensive care unit, amid unprecedented pressure witnessed by hospitals in the Syrian capital, with the increase in the influx of injured in the recent period.
Doctor Asma Spinney (26 years old) is doing her best to provide primary care for the injured person who is breathing with difficulty. And she makes sure that she receives oxygen through a mask that she attaches to her mouth to support her tired lungs, while the room is narrowed by patients and their relatives who are indifferent to social distancing measures.
“We have many cases that need a respirator, and many cases need intensive care,” the doctor at Al-Mouwasat Hospital told AFP, while wearing two masks.
“There are situations where we cannot do anything for them. They die in front of us,” she adds with clear emotion.
In the middle of last month, the occupancy rate of intensive care beds allocated to Corona patients in Damascus hospitals reached one hundred percent, according to the Ministry of Health, in the first official announcement since the outbreak of the epidemic began a year ago. She said that patients have been transferred from care departments to hospitals outside the capital.
This came after an acceleration in the spread of the virus was recorded, reflected by the increase in the number of infected people. This increase prompted the government to allocate a heart surgery hospital to receive Corona patients, provided that heart patients would be referred to other hospitals.
The young doctor hangs an oxygen meter around her neck and writes on a small notebook details of more than ten cases that she saw on Wednesday. “We sometimes receive more than forty cases a day, and this is more than the carrying capacity,” she explains.
The increase in the number of injuries comes in light of an exceptional living and economic crisis, with which it is difficult to impose a tight lockdown, similar to what happened, with the start of the epidemic, according to what local officials say.
Since the start of the pandemic, the government-controlled areas, which account for less than two-thirds of the Syrian territories, have recorded more than 19,000 infections, which led to 1,274 deaths.
Doctors and international organizations believe that the number of injuries is much higher than the official figures announced. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs attributes this to the limited testing across Syria, as well as the lack of large numbers of asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic cases.
“Increasing every day”
The director of Al-Mouwasat Hospital, Essam Al-Amin, who oversees one of the most prominent departments of isolation and intensive care related to the virus, told AFP that “the official figures reflect the results of the BCR tests that take place in hospitals or for travelers.”
At the same time, he talks about “dozens of moderate and light cases receiving self-treatment at home after follow-up with a specialized doctor.”
Mouwasat Hospital allocated nearly 50 percent of the intensive care departments for Corona patients, in addition to more than 70 beds in the isolation department.
According to El-Amin, hospitals receive “only severe cases.” “Syria is in a state of war and siege, and it does not have large samples from testing tests,” he says.
Two minutes do not go by without the Secretary’s phone ringing, which follows through on large screens the progress of operations in the isolation, emergency and care rooms.
“We have not reached the peak stage yet (…) the numbers are increasing every day,” he says.
In January, the Syrian government signed an agreement to join the “Kovacs” initiative through the World Health Organization.
In a first stage, the platform will provide 912,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine to the population in government-controlled areas and in the northeast of the country under the control of Kurdish fighters.
After the arrival of the vaccines was expected during the current month, the Director of the World Health Organization’s office in Damascus, Akjamal Majtamiova, told AFP that the delivery “will be delayed until at least May.”
A joint report between the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the World Health Organization stated that the first vaccinations will take place in the second quarter of this year “at the latest”.
‘A chance to survive’
Dr. Ali Rostom, a specialist in septic diseases, breathes a sigh of relief after being informed that a bed is empty in the intensive care unit, following the improvement of a condition that occupied him. And he is rushing to direct the nurses to prepare the bed and sterilize it, perhaps as a “survival opportunity” for another casualty.
After inspecting a critical situation, he says, “The speed of spread is high, and there is an increase in numbers in the form of an explosion … This wave is more intense in terms of occupying hospital beds.”
He does not hide his fear for the medical staff either. And ask an older doctor to stay as far away as possible from critical injuries.
Ten years of war have decimated the medical sector, which also suffers from a shortage of staff.
In a report published two days ago, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that 654 medical workers have been reported to the Syrian government since the start of the outbreak, and at least 29 of them have died.
In one of the hospital rooms, after completing a meeting with young doctors, Dr. Bassam Koueider confirms that “intensive care beds are never empty (..) and there are always those who put their names on waiting lists.”
He lowers his voice the moment an ambulance arrives carrying a 70-year-old woman. “Corona is not a joke,” he sighs deeply.
The Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research of the system also announced the suspension of working hours in public and private universities and institutes for a period of two weeks, starting from Monday April 4 until April 17th, as a “precautionary measure” in the face of the Corona virus, which is very widespread in various Syrian governorates, against the background of politics. The failure of the regime and the concerned authorities in this regard, as the lie continues to cover up the real numbers by recording dozens of injuries and deaths on a daily basis, and it is irrelevant to reality, as the virus spreads in various governorates and is very large within its third peak on the Syrian lands, amid the family filling in a large number In the hospitals, what portends disaster and the system remains by watching the matter.
It is noteworthy that the official numbers of the Ministry of Health of the Syrian regime since the pandemic entered the Syrian territories are 19164 injuries, of which 1288 died, while the cases of recovery reached 12977.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights counted the deaths of 172 doctors within the areas of influence of the Syrian regime as a result of their infection with the Coronavirus during the past 2020.
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