In Brief: Coronavirus could plunge Palestinian economy into slump, says World Bank

The economic fallout from the coronavirus could see the Palestinian economy slump by as much as 11 percent, the World Bank warned in a report on Monday. The bank also forecast that falling tax revenues and increased health spending could leave the Palestinian Authority with a $1.5bn hole in its finances. In its last pre-pandemic report, the bank had projected 2.5 percent growth in the Palestinian economy. But its new report warned: “We now project a full-year decline of at least 7.6 percent, based on a gradual return to normality from (coronavirus) containment and up to 11 percent in the case of a slower recovery or further restrictions due to another outbreak.”

The warning came as the PA continued to loosen the West Bank’s tight lockdown. In recent days, the West Bank has also seen a slight uptick in coronavirus cases. Thirty three cases have been confirmed since lockdown restrictions were eased last Wednesday, mostly in villages surrounding Qalqilya in the northwestern West Bank. A lockdown has been reimposed on the area in response, the PA said. There have been two reported coronavirus deaths in the West Bank. The World Bank praised the PA for the “decisive action” it took to tackle the pandemic, but warned of a sharp rise in unemployment. In Gaza, where one person, a 77-year-old woman, has died from the virus, authorities are preparing to release by the end of the week 1,461 people who had been placed in quarantine. All arrivals in Gaza are detained at the border and placed in quarantine, with non-residents banned from entering the coastal enclave.
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