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Is Syria unable, or unwilling, to fend off Iran coronavirus contagion?

While close links between Damascus and Tehran put the former at great risk of an influx of COVID-19 cases, Syria's reliance on Iran for political and military support may make stemming the spread more difficult.
A street cleaner rests at empty Souk al-Hamidieh, as restrictions are imposed as measure to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Damascus, Syria March 24, 2020. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki - RC2HQF9TCDQH
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The UN special envoy for Syria has called for “a complete, immediate nationwide ceasefire to enable an all out-out effort to suppress COVID-19,” warning that Syrians are “acutely vulnerable” to the global pandemic. Geir Pedersen’s call on Tuesday followed the Syrian government’s announcement of its first case of novel coronavirus, a 20-year-old woman, who flew in from the UK and is currently undergoing treatment. But the greatest menace to Syria comes from Iran, which —alongside Italy, China and Spain — is among the worst hit by the disease and where the death toll stood at 2,077 as of Wednesday, according to Iranian officials. 

Syria reported four more COVID-19 cases Wednesday, for a total of five.

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