Urgent action is needed to prepare to fight the novel coronavirus in states already ravaged by war and famine, the International Committee of the Red Cross warned Monday.
“COVID-19 represents a major threat to life in countries with strong health systems. But the threat is even greater in places where health systems have been ravaged by war, where people uprooted by conflict live in close proximity, and where life-saving resources like clean water, soap and medicine are in short supply,” the ICRC wrote in a statement.
The Red Cross said it would be “nearly impossible” to fight the spread of the disease in countries like Syria, Yemen, South Sudan, Afghanistan, and Northeast Nigeria without a “concerted response by states and humanitarian organizations.”
The World Health Organization and many others have said that frequent hand washing and social distancing are essential measures in slowing the spread of the virus. But these measures are difficult if not impossible in crowded refugee camps which are already low on supplies.
Afghanistan has already reported over 100 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Syria has confirmed nine cases, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.