A healthcare worker checks the temperature of a woman arriving in Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava) from Iraqi Kurdistan, February 26, 2020 (Delil Souleiman/AFP)
Kurdish authorities in northeast Syria have imposed a 10-day curfew seeking to limit the spread of Coronavirus.
The curfew was announced on Tuesday, the first day of the religious month of Ramadan. Bakeries, pharmacies, and gas stations are still open, with restaurants only allowed to serve takeaway meals.
Residents said most people are observing the restrictions, with checkpoints and little activity on streets.
All crossing points between northeast Syria and opposition territory in the northwest have been closed. Three crossings between the northeast and regime-held areas were reopened last week, after the Assad regime blocked them in a dispute over oil supplies.
The virus has surged across Syria in recent weeks, with hospitals and clinics filled to capacity.
“The speed in which the virus is spreading is huge,” said Jwan Mustafa, head of the Kurdish authority’s health department. “The region has reached a very critical period and we cannot stop the spread.”
About 5 million people live in the Kurdish zone. The authority has reported a total of 12,437 cases, including 201 on Monday. There have been 428 deaths, with six on Monday.
Mustafa added that, with limits on testing, the actual toll is likely to be far higher.
The Assad regime has also played down the infections in its areas, officially acknowledging only 20,435 cases and 1,392 deaths.
However, two weeks ago the regime closed primary schools indefinitely and suspended classes in universities.
Hospitals in Damascus ran out of intensive care beds last month, with patients transferred to other provinces. Regime officials are strenuously denying a shortage of oxygen cylinders, forcing the ill to purchase them at inflated prices and take them home.