Specter of the novel coronavirus casts its shadow on areas of conflict in the Middle East, sparking the fear of an imminent catastrophe.

The novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, which first appeared in Wuhan, China last December, has spread to at least 177 countries and territories, according to data compiled by the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.

The virus has pushed the health systems of many developed countries to the verge of collapse due to the limited capacities of hospitals. Given the fact that most of the developed countries in the West are themselves struggling to confront the virus, conflicted areas

Read more: Conflict regions vulnerable to COVID-19 catastrophe