Grave concerns in the Gaza Strip following first Coronavirus cases

March 24, 2020 by Baruch Yedid - TPS
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Health officials in the Gaza Strip announced on Monday that Gazan medical centres would cease performing non-emergency operations and prohibit visits to hospital amid fear of a largescale outbreak of the novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) in Gaza.

Municipal workers in Gaza City disinfect a municipal building and its surroundings as a precaution against coronavirus. Gaza, Mar 9, 2020. Photo by Majdi Fathi/TPS

The measures are intended to prevent a large-scale outbreak in the Gaza Strip, following the discovery of two infections on Sunday.

While Hamas is trying to reassure Gaza residents that the situation is under control and civilian and security officials are taking the required steps, it is becoming increasingly clear that the Gaza Strip is not prepared for the outbreak.

A Hamas health spokesman announced that the two Pakistani contractors who tested positive for Covid-19 after returning from Pakistan, did not come into contact with Gazan residents and that 29 people who came in contact with them had now gone into isolation.

The Hamas government published a list of actions it was undertaking in its media outlets, aimed at reassuring the public. Content included images from the isolation facility in Rafah, at the border crossing to Egypt, where 300 workers remain employed.

At present, at least 1,200 residents are in isolation in the various centres across the Gaza Strip and over 2,000 are staying in home isolation. As a measure of control, Tawfiq Abu Naim, who is in charge of the security forces in the Gaza Strip and his deputy, also entered quarantine.

Hamas police are continuing to enforce the new health directives, which prohibit activity in markets, restaurants and public places and ban the setting up of mourning tents.

The Friday prayers, particularly important in Islam, were also cancelled throughout the Gaza Strip.

Additionally, the Interior Ministry in Gaza began monitoring the prices of basic goods in the Gaza Strip while disinfectants are being imported through the Kerem Shalom border crossing with Israel.

Last night, Qatar’s ruler announced that he was donating an additional $ 150 million to the Gaza Strip to fight the Coronavirus. Palestinian Authority officials, however, warned of Hamas’ inability to manage the Corona crisis compared to strong, functioning states.

Hassan Asfour, a former PA senior leader, mocked PA head Mahmoud Abbas for his policy towards the Gaza Strip and demanded that he exercise his national responsibility towards its residents, especially upon receiving taxes from Israel.

“Either remove the blockade or admit your failure to exercise Palestinian sovereignty in the Gaza Strip,” Asfour wrote.

Meanwhile, Hamas’ political bureau chief Ismail Haniya called the Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, to express his support and identification with the Iranian people in the fight against the Coronavirus.

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