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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad tests positive for Covid-19

Assad joins a list of leaders who have tested positive for the virus, including former President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Image: Syrian President Bashar Assad
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the capital, Damascus.Syrian Presidency Press Office / AFP - Getty Images file

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his wife have tested positive for Covid-19, the Syrian presidency said in a statement Monday.

The president and his wife, Asma al-Assad, were tested for the coronavirus after they felt "mild symptoms," according to the statement, which confirmed that the test came back positive.

"Both are in good health and in a stable condition, and they will continue to work during their home quarantine period that will last two or three weeks," added the statement that was published on social media.

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Assad joins a growing list of world leaders who have tested positive for the coronavirus, including French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and former President Donald Trump.

The news comes the same month that the country marks 10 years of war that has killed hundreds of thousands of people, displaced half the population and decimated its economy.

Well over half of the Syrian population can’t afford a basic meal with the price of basic foods more than 200 percent higher than they were this time last year, according to the United Nations.

Assad has been in power since 2000 and his family has ruled Syria for half a century. Syria is due to hold presidential elections in May and it's widely expected that Assad will win a fourth consecutive term in office.

In 2014, he captured 88.7 percent of the vote, with the opposition and their Western allies declaring it a farce, according to The Associated Press.

Syria has recorded nearly 16,000 virus cases, as well as 1,063 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

These cases are, however, only those recorded in government-held areas and the number of cases is believed to be much higher as there are limited amounts of tests being done, according to the AP.

Syria's state news agency, SANA, reported last month that the country would launch its vaccination campaign in the first week of March, starting with front-line health workers.

Health Minister Hassan Al-Ghobash said Syria had received a quantity of the vaccine “from a friendly country” without giving further details, according to SANA.

The official statement released Monday did not say whether Assad and his wife have been vaccinated.