In Brief: Covid progress in Israel as Gaza sees surge in cases

CDC/ Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Israel saw zero coronavirus deaths on 22 April, the first day in 10 months without a single death due to the virus.

With a total death toll of over 6,000, Israel’s daily death toll has been decreasing since January, when daily deaths averaged at about 60 per day. The last time Israel recorded no covid-19 deaths in a single day was in June.

More than five million Israelis have received both doses of the coronavirus vaccine, primarily the two-shot Pfizer-BioNTech brand. As a result, Israel retains one of the highest vaccination rates in the world.
In February, Israel’s health minister said studies revealed the risk of illness from the virus dropped 95.8 per cent among people who had both doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

Meanwhile, Gaza has witnessed a sudden surge in infections and deaths which threatens to overwhelm already ill-prepared hospitals.

Oxygen supplies at Gaza’s main covid treatment centre are dwindling, as hospitals struggle to accommodate the surge in patients. The surge is thought to be the result of several factors, including the decision by Hamas – the terrorist group which runs Gaza – to lift most covid restrictions, the emergence of more aggressive strains of the virus, and a vaccine shortage.

The surge has also coincided with the start of Ramadan, which has seen many of Gaza’s more than two million residents flout safety precautions. Proper mask wearing is rare and markets are busy with shoppers preparing goods for iftar.