As Palestinian coronavirus cases more than double in a week, international support as vital as ever

[Update 3 July: Since Tuesday, five Palestinians in the Hebron governorate have sadly died from COVID-19, bringing the total number of deaths in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) to 13. According to the Ministry of Health, there are 3,315 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the oPt, including 3,243 in the West Bank and 72 in Gaza.]

The number of COVID-19 (coronavirus) cases in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) has more than doubled in just one week, intensifying fears of a widespread outbreak and highlighting the need for sustained long-term support to the Palestinian health workers battling the disease.

Today, Tuesday 30 June, the Palestinian Ministry of Health confirmed that 2,698 cases of COVID-19 have been identified, up from 1,284 on Tuesday 23 June. With the number of cases in Gaza remaining stable during this period (72), all new cases have been reported in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. The southern governorate of Hebron has been hardest hit by this latest surge in cases, with at least 1,491 overall according to the World Health Organization. Sadly, three new deaths have also been reported in East Jerusalem and Hebron, bringing the total across the oPt to eight. Those who recently died are two women, one aged 19 and one in her 40s, and a man in his 60s.

On Saturday, Palestinian Prime Minster Mohammed Shtayyeh announced new measures in the occupied West Bank to help control the disease, including a ban on public gatherings including weddings and graduation parties, and lockdowns of badly-affected areas.

Medical Aid for Palestinians remains gravely concerned by the situation and the prospect of an exponentially worsening outbreak. The capacity of the Palestinian healthcare system has been undermined by decades of occupation and financial constraints, and many communities remain vulnerable to the disease due to politically driven socioeconomic conditions and poor public health.

MAP Director of Programmes Dr Andy Ferguson said: “The relatively slow pace of coronavirus transmission in Palestine until now is testament to the remarkable local and international response to the pandemic. With no vaccine yet in sight, however, this support must be sustained for many months to come.

“MAP is hard at work helping  to limit spread and save lives, and we hope that regional and international donors will likewise continue to bolster the fragile Palestinian healthcare system and public health institutions.”

We are continuing to respond through our teams and partners on the ground in the West Bank, Gaza and the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon; supporting Ministries of Health, East Jerusalem NGO hospitals and Palestine Red Crescent Society hospitals. We are prioritising infection prevention and containment, providing hygiene kits to quarantined families, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for health workers and antiseptics/disinfectants to help prevent further spread of the disease. We are also supplying out-of-stock medicines and disposables to Gaza’s hospitals to support the care of the critically ill.

We have launched an emergency appeal in response to COVID-19 (Coronavirus). Your support is urgently needed to help us save lives in Gaza, the West Bank and Lebanon. Please help us be there for Palestinians during this crisis with a donation today.

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