‘Catastrophe’: Fears over outbreak of coronavirus in Gaza


According to well being officers within the besieged Gaza Strip, at the very least seven folks have examined constructive for COVID-19, the illness brought on by the brand new coronavirus, bringing the full variety of confirmed instances within the enclave to 9.

In a press release launched on Wednesday night time, Gaza’s Health Ministry stated the brand new sufferers had been in touch with the primary two who examined constructive earlier this week.


The new instances have been safety guards who have been guarding the quarantine facility in southern Gaza, the ministry added. 

The safety guards “have not left and remain in the quarantine centre, and have not mixed with anyone outside the facility … near the Rafah border crossing”, native media reported the ministry as saying.

Gaza’s nearly two million residents have been urged to take precautionary measures and to practise social distancing by staying home in a bid to halt the unfold of the virus. 

Shadi al-Tabatibi is the grandson of Mohammed al-Tabatibi – the 79-year-old man who was one of many first two to check constructive for the virus earlier this week.

Shadi al-Tabatibi informed Al Jazeera he and his relations have been shocked to be taught that the brand new sufferers had contracted the virus from his grandfather. 

“My grandfather suffers from diabetes and blood pressure … and we’re worried about the possibility of his health deteriorating,” the 26-year-old stated.

His grandfather is amongst dozens of others who’re at the moment in quarantine centres within the southern Gaza Strip, the place many have raised concern in regards to the lack of hygiene and medical care accessible. 

Shadi al-Tabatibi’s grandfather has stated there may be not sufficient “equipment to deal with the disease” and “there is no appropriate medical care” within the facility, in keeping with his grandson.

“The people here are afraid, the streets are empty … it is like the days of the war in Gaza.”

Scarce sources

The potential outbreak of the illness within the densely populated Gaza might be catastrophic, medical doctors and NGOs have warned.

Earlier this week, authorities shut down eating places, cafes and reception halls. Friday prayers at mosques have additionally been suspended till additional discover.

Rami al-Abadleh, director of the infections prevention division in Gaza’s Health Ministry, stated it’s probably that new instances of the virus might be detected.

“We took new samples for PCR testing, and we will expand our efforts to test 150 samples a day,” al-Abadleh stated, referring to a polymerase chain response (PCR) take a look at – the take a look at of alternative utilised to diagnose COVID-19.

“We have repeatedly called for medical devices that are needed to cover the huge shortage in the health sector,” he stated, noting that the Health Ministry’s capabilities are “very limited”.

Gaza’s healthcare system is severely depleted and its war-affected residents are particularly susceptible as they’ve lived beneath an Israeli-Egyptian siege for nearly 13 years.

The air, land and sea blockade has restricted the entry of important sources comparable to healthcare gear, treatment and constructing supplies, amongst others.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned Gaza’s healthcare system wouldn’t be capable of cope with an outbreak, on condition that the strip’s hospitals are overstretched and under-resourced.

“Our ventilators are hardly sufficient and would only be able to accommodate a maximum of 100 patients across the strip,” al-Abadleh stated.

“Currently, there are 45 intensive care beds in all of Gaza’s public hospitals, and they are often occupied by other patients with heart and lung diseases,” al-Abadleh added. “This is why the spread of the virus in Gaza would constitute a real catastrophe.”

Additional reporting by Maram Humaid.