Authorities step up lockdown efforts in war-torn country after 20-year-old woman tested positive.

Health officials in war-battered Syria have announced the first case of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, as authorities in the country fear and prepare to halt all public transportation in a bid to curb the spread of the virus.

Health Minister Nizar Yazji told a news conference in the capital Damascus on Sunday that “necessary measures” had been taken to ensure that the patient, a 20-year-old woman who had come from abroad, was quarantined for 14 days.

Yazji said the patient did not exhibit all of the symptoms upon arrival, but was identified by a “detection team” responsible for scanning incoming travellers, state news agency Sana reported.

A ban on public transport as well as on private transport services will come into effect on Monday night, the agency reported. A similar ban on transportation between various cities and provinces will come into effect on Tuesday night. 

Earlier, the government shut down schools, parks, restaurants and various public institutions, and called off army conscription.

Syria’s healthcare system, among other infrastructure, has been ravaged by nine years of war.

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