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Syria’s Assad, wife recover from COVID-19

Syrian President Bashar Assad and his wife have recovered from COVID-19 and returned to their regular duties.

A statement by the president’s office said the country’s first couple returned to work on Tuesday, three weeks after they had tested positive for the coronavirus.

According to the statement, Mr. Assad, fifty-five,  and his wife, Asma, who’s ten years younger, had their PCR tests and the results were negative, and the mild symptoms of the virus that they had experienced before were now gone.

The couple had isolated themselves since testing positive on March 8. Mrs. Assad, for her part, had announced her recovery from breast cancer in 2019.

Later on Tuesday, Mr. Assad’s office said the president presided over a Cabinet meeting, his first public appearance in weeks.

War-torn Syria is witnessing a sharp increase in coronavirus cases. Earlier this month, state media reported that intensive care units in state hospitals in the capital, Damascus, were full and that medical staff had been called to stay on alert to deal with patients.

Syria has been mired in civil war for ten years since anti-government protests turned into an insurgency. Years of fighting have resulted in the deaths of over half a million people and displaced half of the country’s pre-war population of 23 million.

So far, authorities have registered more than 18,000 cases of the virus and 1,247 deaths in government-held parts of the country, where the first case was reported in March last year.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), there are nearly 21,000 cases in the last rebel stronghold in Syria’s northwest along the border with Turkey, in addition to about 9,000 cases in areas controlled by US-backed Kurdish-led fighters in the northeast.

Last week, the WHO said it would oversee a coronavirus vaccination campaign in Syria that is expected to commence in April, with the aim of inoculating 20% of the population by the end of 2021.

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