In Brief: Covid pandemic worsens in West Bank and Gaza as cases hit record

Image: Alissa Eckert, MSMI, Dan Higgins, MAMS, Public Health Image Library

The West Bank saw a record increase in new coronavirus cases this week amid fears that the pandemic is spiralling out of control in the Palestinian territories.
According to the Palestinian Authority health ministry, the West Bank saw 1,126 new cases yesterday. The previous record, set only a day before, was 863. In Gaza, health authorities identified 685 new coronavirus cases. In all, 3,703 new cases have been reported over the past five days in the coastal enclave.
Seventeen Palestinians died of covid-19 in the previous 24 hours, bringing to 740 the number of deaths in the West Bank and Gaza since the outbreak of the pandemic in March.
“Matters could get out of control,” Palestinian health official Osama al-Najjar told The Times of Israel. He attributed some of the rise to an increase in testing but said mass violations of social distancing rules were also taking place.
On Monday, the Palestinian prime minister, Mohammad Shtayyeh, announced tighter restrictions to “break the spread of the virus”. On Friday and Saturday, PA-controlled areas will reenter total lockdown for the first time since July before the start of a 14-day nightly curfew. Amid a pandemic-induced economic meltdown in the Palestinian territories, the PA last week said it would resume accepting tax revenues collected on its behalf by Israel. The decision to refuse the transfers – which account for 60 percent of the PA’s overall revenue – was made to protest against Israel’s now-abandoned plan to annex West Bank settlements and the Jordan Valley.
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