COVID-19 cases double again in Palestine: MAP response continues

Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) remains gravely concerned by the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) and the prospect of an exponentially worsening COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak.

Last Tuesday, MAP warned that the number of coronavirus cases in the West Bank had more than doubled in a week. Since then, the number of confirmed cases have continued to dangerously increase, more than doubling again.

Today, Friday 10 July, the Palestinian Ministry of Health confirmed that 5,829 cases of COVID-19 have been identified in the oPt, up from 2,698 on Tuesday 30 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 4,028 overall according to the World Health Organization. MAP is pleased to announce it has just started a new partnership with the Palestinian Medical Relief Society to provide a mobile clinic service to Bedouin communities in the badly-hit Hebron area. More details will follow.

Sadly, since Wednesday seven deaths have also been reported in the West Bank, bringing the total number of COVID-19 related deaths across the oPt to 30, with 29 deaths in the West Bank and one in Gaza. Of the seven most recent Covid-related fatalities, six were from the Hebron district, aged 58, 71, 87, 79, 68 and 62, and one was from the northern village of Hajja, aged 52.

MAP’s partners have reported at least 52 Palestinian health workers in the West Bank have been infected with COVID-19. This week it was announced that a team of health workers from Gaza are preparing to travel to the West Bank to support health workers battling the virus there. The capacity of the Palestinian healthcare system has been greatly 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.

Beyond the West Bank, in Gaza and the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, Palestinian communities also remain extremely susceptible.

Dr Adnan, the Director of the MAP-supported Ard El Insan (AEI) Malnutrition Centre in Gaza, told MAP:

“The impact of COVID-19 in Gaza has been enormous. The situation here was already very bad before this crisis, but now is far worse. Many families on low incomes have seen their salaries reduced or have lost their jobs entirely. Other aid services on which they are heavily dependent have been cut or ended altogether. We have seen more and more people coming to our centre, desperately looking for some hope.”

Tragically, three suicides were recorded in Gaza last weekend as a result of the dire economic and living conditions there after 13 years of illegal blockade and closure.

Lebanon is also confronting an economic crisis, experiencing what the World Bank has described as its “worst economic crisis in recent history.” With Palestinian workers generally confined to low paid, unskilled or semi-skilled jobs, the outbreak of COVID-19 has made it even harder for them to maintain their livelihoods and income. Our partner, Hanan, told MAP of the extremely difficult situation facing Palestinian refugees, “people say if they don’t die from the disease, they’ll soon die from hunger.”

MAP is 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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