The price of some foodstuffs and vegetables jumped, coinciding with the Syrian regime’s decision to close some shops and restrict citizens’ movements in the face of the new coronavirus (Covid-19).
According to what Enab Baladi has seen, prices have increased by rates between 20 and 40 percent, with the prices varying from one market to another, as people increase their demand to buy and store food—especially after the first official infection in Syria was recorded on Sunday.
These rises have added to the already-high prices of cleaning materials, sterilizers and masks, which have disappeared in large numbers from stores due to increased demand amid deteriorating purchasing power among citizens.
About a week ago, Enab Baladi saw in the Damascus market high prices for large-capacity Dettol antiseptic bottles, up to 22,000 Syrian pounds. Medical alcohol packages were 1,500 pounds, while the price of a small box of Touch sterilizer was 800 pounds, and the masks 900 pounds.
Syria tops the list of the poorest countries in the world, with a poverty rate of 82.5 percent, according to data from the World By Map website, which was mentioned in a report in February.
The site’s numbers correspond with figures from the United Nations, with the proportion of Syrians under the poverty line estimated at 83 percent, according to its annual report for 2019, on Syria’s most important humanitarian needs.
The purchasing power index in the capital, Damascus, witnessed a significant decline, reaching 9.49 points, and the website Numbeo ranked it as very low.
Increased demand … in anticipation of a mandatory quarantine
The decision to close the markets coincided with people buying and storing food supplies, fearing the regime government would impose a mandatory quarantine, as part of its measures to confront the coronavirus
The cabinet issued a circular, calling for the closure of markets, as well as commercial, service, cultural, and social activities, from Mar. 22, 2020, until further notice.
The circular excluded food centers, pharmacies and private health centers, provided that they were committed to public health and safety management and procedures.
The Minister of Health, Nizar Yazigi, announced on Sunday the registration of the first infection with the coronavirus (Covid-19), noting that she is a 20-year-old girl who came from outside Syria.
As the virus continues to spread globally, the number of infected people around the world has reached more than 340,000, with more than 14,000 deaths.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.