11/07/2020, 09.18
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Msf: Covid-19 hits the Zaatari refugee camp, the largest in Jordan

The center hosts 76,000 refugees who have fled Syria due to the war. The international NGO has opened a center for the treatment of mild or moderate cases, with 30 beds available. Physical distancing and compliance with hygiene standards difficult. The fear of infecting family members.

Amman (AsiaNews) - Jordan, long spared from the new coronavirus compared to other countries in the Middle East region such as Iran and Saudi Arabia, is now experiencing an exponential growth in infections.

Today the Hashemite kingdom holds the unenviable record of the highest per capita rate of infection and mortality of all Arab nations.

And the long wave of the virus, as Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) experts report, has also reached Zaatari, the largest refugee camp in the country with 76,000 Syrians who fled the war, where the first cases and the NGO were registered opened a treatment center.

According to the official report, almost 96 thousand cases of new coronavirus are registered in Jordan; just under 1100 the official victims. Situations such as that of reception centers and refugee camps are of particular concern, where Covid-19 could have an uncontrolled spread due to the few resources and difficult hygienic conditions, which hinder the basic rules to combat its spread such as hygiene and personal protection, along with spacing.

The gradual relaxation of restrictions since June has favored the recovery of the virus, which has reached the reception center in Zaatari, the largest in the country. MSF operators welcomed the first seven cases in the center recently set up in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and which has 30 beds. It provides medical treatment for patients with mild or moderate symptoms.

Gemma Dominguez, head of the MSF mission in Jordan, confirms that doctors and health professionals have been monitoring the situation in the camp ““We have been monitoring people’s health situation in Zaatari since March, as an outbreak in a camp setting can spread quickly,” she says. “In a densely populated refugee camp, it can be very difficult for people to follow simple preventive measures such as handwashing, wearing a mask and physical distancing.”

Conditions in Zaatari, set up in 2012 on the border with Syria and where people have been living in precariousness for years, have worsened with Covid-19 and the restrictions imposed to limit its spread. Many shops are closed and the travel block prevents people from going to work or looking for one to earn some money. Added to this is the fear of contracting the virus and passing it on to family members.

Ahmed Sabah, one of the MSF doctors who works inside, confirms that "sometimes people who have symptoms attributable to Covid-19 prefer not to say". “They are afraid - he continues - of having to remain in isolation and stay away from their families. A mother of four, worried about her children and what would become of them if she were placed in solitary confinement, asked me 'What will happen to my children and who will take care of them if the virus separates us?' " .

Among the many fears and fears, there are also those who are waiting to know if they have contracted the virus and rely on God and pray for a speedy recovery. "I have been in the MSF hospital for two days" says 23-year-old Majd, a Syrian refugee who has been suffering from fever and exhaustion for days and is awaiting the results of the test. “I have no cough or cold, I just had a persistent fever but now it's gone. I'm waiting for the test results, if it's positive I'll have to stay here to be treated. But - he concludes - I am not worried, it is something I cannot control but I know that God will help me”.

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