(1-6 April 2020)
As of 7 April, a total of 260 Palestinians have been confirmed to have COVID-19 in the oPt, 247 in the West Bank (excluding East Jerusalem Palestinians), and 13 in the Gaza Strip. Of these, one died on 25 March, 23 people have recovered, and the majority of the remainder are asymptomatic. While the current number of people detected positive for COVID-19 in the oPt, especially in Gaza, remains low relative to other countries, this may reflect the limited testing capacity.
During the reporting period, over 100 new COVID-19 cases were detected in the West Bank, many of them reportedly contracting the disease in a factory located in a settlement industrial area in East Jerusalem. The exact number of cases in East Jerusalem remains unconfirmed, as these are not covered by the Palestinian Ministry of Health (MoH) and are not disaggregated in the overall figures by the Israeli authorities.
On 3 April, the Government of Palestine (GoP) extended the State of Emergency declared on 5 March across the oPt for another month. The Emergency Command Centre at the Prime Minister’s Office continued leading the efforts to contain the outbreak, amid close coordination with the Israeli authorities and international actors, primarily the World Health Organization (WHO). Nevertheless, the capacity of the Palestinian health system to cope with the expected increase in caseload remains severely impaired by longstanding challenges and critical shortages, particularly in the Gaza Strip.
In its Response Plan released on 26 March, the GoP requested US$137 million to support its direct public health response to COVID-19 across the oPt, as well as budget support and economic recovery. The health response component ($120 million) covers short-term critical gaps that could undermine its ability to contain and manage the epidemic.
The most needed items are currently in short supply due to the unprecedented global demand, including personal protective equipment (PPE) kits and supplies to conduct COVID-19 tests. Hospitals across the oPt also face shortages of specialized staff in intensive care units.
Across the oPt, and especially in Gaza, mental health and psychosocial service (MHPSS) providers have reported a sharp increase in phone consultations related to domestic violence, attributed to the longstanding closure of schools, increased unemployment and severe movement restrictions.
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