U.N. seeks total ceasefire in Syria, prisoner releases, to combat coronavirus

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The U.N. Special Envoy for Syria called on Tuesday for an immediate nationwide ceasefire across Syria to enable an “all-out-effort” to stamp out COVID-19.

In a statement, Geir Pedersen also appealed on humanitarian grounds for “large-scale releases of detainees and abductees” in Syria and access for medical workers to detention facilities to help ensure that adequate medical care is provided to inmates.

The spread of coronavirus to Syria brings the prospect of a deadly outbreak to a population devastated by nine years of war, with ravaged hospitals and tightly packed camps likely to accelerate infection, doctors and aid workers said on Monday.

The Assad government announced on Sunday its first case after unconfirmed reports suggested the virus had been detected but covered up, a charge officials denied.