In Damascus the coronavirus brings a 'war of another kind'


The Syrian authorities, who register five cases of Covid-19 contamination, have ordered the closure of non-essential shops, schools, universities, restaurants and cafes.

The Syrian authorities, who register five cases of Covid-19 contamination, have ordered the closure of non-essential shops, schools, universities, restaurants and cafes. Damascus; On a street in old Damascus today deserted, the coronavirus has forced Ahmad to close his fabric store indefinitely, for the first time since the start of the war in Syria
In Damascus the coronavirus brings a 'war of another kind'
Damascus. -  On a street in old Damascus today deserted, the coronavirus has forced Ahmad to close his fabric store indefinitely, for the first time since the start of the war in Syria.
"We have had difficult times during the war. Sometimes we closed, but reopened soon after," says this 59-year-old man, sitting in a chair on the sidewalk in front of his store, reported AFP.

"But never in my life have I seen markets and shops forced to close for days, as is the case now."
Damascus' shopping streets, with their shutdown, are nearly empty. Like much of the capital.
In the famous Al Hamidiyé market, usually crowded with people, only a few workers with orange combinations and protective masks spray disinfectant on the iron curtains closed with chains, while some people, also with masks, quickly cross the street.
Earlier in the week, Ahmad asked his employees to stay at their homes, and paid them their wages.
The Syrian authorities, which record five cases of Covid-19 contamination, have ordered the closure of non-essential shops, schools, universities, restaurants and cafes, as well as the suspension of public transport.
It has also imposed a night curfew.
Never before have such measures been enacted by the power in nine years of devastating war, which has killed more than 380,000 people, displaced millions of men, women and children, and destroyed infrastructure, including many hospitals and medical centers.
"Hidden Enemy" 
"Perhaps we are facing a war of a different kind," the merchant Ahmad, who describes the epidemic as a "hidden enemy," is alarmed.
"I don't know how we are going to live without work," he adds. He has three people in charge in a country where, according to the UN, 80% of the population lives below the poverty line.

In the old Damascus, even the famous Umayyad mosque has closed its doors.

Not far from there, 24-year-old Mustafá, his face half covered with a blue mask, and his hands protected by gloves, quickly heads towards a pharmacy.          

"Damascus always maintained energy and vitality despite the death, the bombings and the stray bullets, but today the city is totally paralyzed," he says.
The Syrian capital, bastion of the regime, has been the scene of bloody attacks and bloody rocket attacks during the war triggered in 2011 by the suppression of pro-democracy demonstrations.
But this did not prevent Mustafa from continuing his studies. Today, however, he risks losing his last year of college.
"When announcing the closure of the universities, I realized that we were in danger," he explains.
Several humanitarian organizations fear a "catastrophe" in the event of a large-scale spread of the disease in Syria, where just over 60% of hospitals are still operating and 70% of pre-war healthcare personnel have fled the country, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Mobilization

In regions under regime control (more than 70% of the territory), citizens have also decided to mobilize to help with the new coronavirus.
Hussein Najjar, a 37-year-old doctor, has created with his colleagues and experts the "Stethoscope" application.
It allows users to ask questions related to the pandemic and get answers from specialists.The goal is to sensitize as many people as possible and help compensate for the lack of medical resources, according to Najjar. 

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