On the verge of collapse are the hospitals in Gaza Strip, as health officials warn, as patients and dying from covid-19 are pushing the health system.
Palestinians fear the combination of poverty, lack of medical supplies, vaccine warfare, lack of evidence for an epidemic coronavirus but also mass rallies due to Ramadan will accelerate the rise of covid-19 cases which began before the start of the Muslim holy month on April 13th.
Health officials in Gaza say about 70 percent of intensive care beds are occupied, up from 37 percent at the end of March. 86 deaths were recorded in the previous six days, 43% increase over the previous week, as broadcast by AMPE.
“Hospitals are almost full. We have not reached this point yet, but in the last three weeks The number of serious and critical incidents has increased significantly, which is a matter of concern “ said Dr. Ayadil Saparbekov heads the World Health Organization’s Emergency Response Team in the Palestinian Territories.
The positive rate in Gaza reached 43% this week, although Shapaberkov said the number may be inflated as, due to a lack of diagnostic tests, tests are performed only on those who already have symptoms of covid-19.
Shapaberkov also said that the authorities in Gaza are unable to detect highly infectious coronavirus strains, which means that there is no evidence of their spread in the Palestinian enclave.
And cemeteries are feeling the pressure. In the city of Gaza, undertaker Mohammad al-Hares said he would bury up to 10 dead of covid-19 a day, up from a day or two a month ago.
“The war period was difficult, but the coronavirus is even more difficult for us,” said al-Hares, who buried the dead of the 2014 war.
“In war we dug graves or buried the dead during a ceasefire or a ceasefire. There is no truce with the coronavirus “
Gaza, home to 2 million Palestinians, has for years had limited access to the outside world due to Israel’s blockade by Egypt with the support of Egypt.
Both countries voice their concerns about Hamas, the Islamist group that rules the enclave, and explain that they want to prevent weapons and money from entering there.
Palestinians allege that the blockade amounts to collective punishment and that it has completely weakened Gaza’s economy and health facilities, with shortages of critical medical supplies and equipment, hampering its ability to deal with the pandemic.
The situation in Gaza is in stark contrast to that in Israel, where 53% of Israelis are fully vaccinated against covid-19.
Lockdown in Ramadan
Amid growing concerns, Hamas will impose a night traffic ban from today, closing the mosques where hundreds of worshipers flock to the evening prayer during Ramadan.
But with about 49 percent of Gaza residents unemployed and the upcoming May 22 parliamentary elections, Hamas has been reluctant to take more drastic measures that could hit the economy even harder.
“We may impose additional measures, but we do not expect to impose full measures at this stage. lockdownHamas spokesman Yad al-Bozom explained.
Health officials say the factors that have led to the current rise in cases include the non-observance of the use of masks and social distancing measures, as well as the opening of the Gaza-Egypt border, which may have allowed the entry of mutants into the pocket. of coronavirus.
Vaccination skepticism is also high. The majority of Gaza residents, 54.2%, said they would not be vaccinated compared to 30.5% who said they would be vaccinated and 15.3% who are undecided, according to a survey conducted yesterday by Jerusalem Media and Communications Center.
Only 34,287 people have received a dose of covid-19 vaccine, although the pocket has received 109,600 doses since February from Russia, the United Arab Emirates and the COVAX program.
“The reluctance of many, including health workers, to get vaccinated remains a major concern,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said on April 12.