In northeast Syria, MSF has partnered with local health authorities in a COVID-19 humanitarian taskforce. We are providing training and supporting preparedness measures to help healthcare workers during the crisis. However, MSF believes that the few functional medical facilities in the region could very quickly become overwhelmed with an influx of COVID-19 patients, putting more people at risk.
Our COVID-19 work in northeast Syria is focused on two sites: Al Hassakeh National Hospital and Al Hol camp.
In Al Hassekeh National Hospital we have created a 48-bed isolation ward, which has begun admitting patients. So far we have received four patients with COVID-19 symptoms, three of whom tested positive and one for whom we are still waiting on results. We have introduced surveillance measures, processes for case identification and patient care, patient flow, and triage. We have also trained staff in infection prevention and control and personal protective equipment usage to mitigate over-use. We continue to provide logistical support, including rehabilitating wards to receive COVID-19 patients.
In Al Hol camp, where MSF started providing medical and humanitarian assistance in January 2019, the overcrowded camp now houses around 65,000 people, 94 per cent of whom are women and children. No one is allowed to leave. We continue to run an inpatient therapeutic feeding centre and a wound care program for those who cannot reach the clinics, while also providing water and sanitation support in the camp. We have also started mapping vulnerable people who are more likely to develop severe illnesses as a result of COVID-19 and are sharing targeted health awareness messages and hygiene kits accordingly. We are preparing to reorganise the feeding centre for care of COVID-19 patients if required.
In late May, MSF flew two charter flights to Iraq, destined for our medical activities and the COVID-19 response in northeast Syria. The flights carried 46 tonnes of essential medical supplies that have since been transferred across the border, as well as 14 MSF staff. The team, made up of medical staff, water and sanitation experts, logisticians and coordination personnel, is quarantining first for 14 days in Erbil.