DAMASCUS: Inside the emergency room of a hospital of the Syrian capital, an elderly woman with Covid-19 waited for a bed at an intensive care unit packed with coronavirus patients.
Sitting on a wheelchair barely an arms-length from another patient, the woman in her seventies tilted her head back as a doctor wedged between them covered her face with an oxygen mask.
"We receive many cases who need a ventilator, and there are many patients who need intensive care," said the doctor, Asma Sbayni of Mouwasat Hospital, one of the largest in Damascus.
"Unfortunately, there are many critical cases who die in front of us... We can't do anything for them" the 26-year-old told AFP, only her eyes visible beneath a veil and two masks.
In mid-March, a health ministry official said intensive care units (ICUs) dedicated to coronavirus patients had reached full capacity across the capital for the first time since coronavirus swept into Syria.
The latest virus surge which many are referring to as a "third wave" has overwhelmed hospitals to the extent that Covid-19 patients are being transferred outside the city for treatment, according to the health ministry.
Authorities have responded by urging compliance with safety measures but stopped short of imposing a strict lockdown, which could aggravate Syria's economic crisis.
Jotting down vitals on a small note pad, Sbayni said she had already attended to at least 10 Covid-19 patients that day with more expected to follow.
"Sometimes we get more than 40 Covid-19 cases per day and this is more than we can handle," she said, an oximeter tied around her neck.