Gaza in lockdown to contain its first COVID-19 outbreak

By Nidal al-Mughrabi GAZA (Reuters) - Gaza was in lockdown on Tuesday after the first cases of COVID-19 in the general population of the Palestinian enclave, whose restricted borders until now had helped spare it from an outbreak. Health authorities in the Hamas-controlled territory are concerned over the potentially disastrous combination of poverty, densely populated refugee camps and limited hospital facilities in dealing with an outbreak

Reuters August 26, 2020 00:11:49 IST
Gaza in lockdown to contain its first COVID-19 outbreak

COVID-19 outbreak" src="https://images.firstpost.com/wp-content/uploads/reuters/08-2020/26/2020-08-25T114906Z_1_LYNXMPEG7O0WD_RTROPTP_2_HEALTH-CORONAVIRUS-GAZA.jpg" alt="Gaza in lockdown to contain its first COVID19 outbreak" width="300" height="225" />

By Nidal al-Mughrabi

GAZA (Reuters) - Gaza was in lockdown on Tuesday after the first cases of COVID-19 in the general population of the Palestinian enclave, whose restricted borders until now had helped spare it from an outbreak.

Health authorities in the Hamas-controlled territory are concerned over the potentially disastrous combination of poverty, densely populated refugee camps and limited hospital facilities in dealing with an outbreak.

A government spokesman said the four cases were uncovered after a woman travelled to the West Bank, where she tested positive. Four members of her family then tested positive in Gaza, the first cases outside quarantined border facilities.

Interior Ministry spokesman Eyad al-Bozom said the family had been in contact with many other people in the Maghazi refugee camp in central Gaza, and that the camp was now isolated from the rest of the 360 sq. km. territory.

"Pandemic investigation committees are conducting the necessary tests to follow up the conditions of the infected four people and those who had come in contact with them," he said.

Businesses, schools and mosques were shuttered late on Monday, and the enclave's streets were largely deserted as police broadcast loudspeaker warnings to obey a 48-hour curfew.

"The movement of people is prohibited except in extreme necessity. When forced to move for an urgent matter people must wear face masks," said a health ministry statement. It warned of "legal measures" against violators.

With Israel and Egypt maintaining tight restrictions along the coastal enclave's fortified frontier, most Gazans have little access to the outside world, and hospitals often complain about shortages of medical supplies. The two countries cite security concerns over Hamas for the blockade.

"What happens if one of us gets infected?" asked Khaled Sami, a Gaza resident. "When people are seriously ill, they send them into Israel, the West Bank or Egypt. Everything is closed now and who is going to open the gate for someone suffering from the coronavirus ?"

On Tuesday, the World Health Organization said Gaza's hospitals currently have capacity for 350 COVID-19 patients for a population of two million.

Dr Ayadil Saparbekov, head of WHO's local Health Emergencies Team, said it would work with the Gaza authorities to convert former border protest medical tents into COVID-19 triage facilities.

"That way doctors can identify if they have symptoms, and they won't rush to hospitals and risk infecting everyone there," he said.

Meanwhile social media users sent messages of support, and encouraged people to remain at home.

"We are staying in the hospital for your sake. Stay home for us," ran one post alongside photographs of Gaza doctors.

(Additional reporting by Rami Ayyub in Jerusalem and Zainah El-Haroun in Ramallah. Editing by Jeffrey Heller, Angus MacSwan and Alexandra Hudson)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.