Beirut-Syrian President Bashar Assad and his wife recovered from COVID-19 on Tuesday, three weeks after a positive coronavirus test, and returned to normal duties, Cheong Wa Dae said.
According to the statement, the first couple in Syria underwent a PCR test with a negative result, eliminating the mild symptoms of the virus they had previously experienced.
Assad, 55, and his wife, Asma, who announced recovery from breast cancer in 2019, ten years younger, have been isolated since a positive test on March 8.
Later on Tuesday, Assad’s office said the president had led his first public cabinet meeting in a few weeks.
Syria has witnessed a surge in incidents. Earlier this month, state media reported that the intensive care unit of a state hospital in the capital of Damascus was full and medical staff were required to be vigilant to deal with coronavirus patients.
Syria has been involved in a civil war for 10 years since the rebel protests that began as part of the Arab Spring uprising turned into rebellions in response to military crackdowns. After a decade of fighting, hundreds of thousands have died and millions have been evacuated.
To date, Syrian authorities have registered more than 18,000 cases of coronavirus and 1,247 deaths in government-owned areas, the first of which was reported last March.
According to the World Health Organization, there were about 21,000 incidents at the last rebel base in northwestern Syria along the Turkish border, dominated by U.S.-backed Kurdish-led fighters in the northeast. There are about 9,000 cases in our area.
Real numbers are considered to be much higher due to limited testing. Many Syrians cannot afford to perform PCR tests in the face of the country’s serious economic crisis.
The pandemic, which has been rigorously tested even in developed countries, is a major challenge for Syria’s healthcare sector and has already been depleted by a decade of conflict. The conflict killed more than 500,000 people and expelled half of Syria’s prewar population of 23 million.
WHO said last week that it would oversee a coronavirus vaccination campaign in Syria scheduled to begin in April with the aim of inoculating 20% of the population by the end of 2021.
By Bassem Mroue