As of 14 April, a total of 284 Palestinians are confirmed to have COVID-19 in the oPt, 271 in the West Bank (excluding East Jerusalem Palestinians), and 13 in the Gaza Strip, with 58 of these recovering. A 55-year-old man died on 10 April, bringing to two the total number of fatalities, both in the West Bank. The current number of people detected positive for COVID-19 in the oPt, especially in Gaza, remains low relative to other countries, but this may reflect the limited testing capacity. Of increasing concern is the lack of information regarding cases in East Jerusalem, as these are not covered by the Palestinian Ministry of Health (MoH) and are not disaggregated in the overall figures by the Israeli authorities.
The Government of Palestine is leading the efforts to contain the outbreak in coordination with the Israeli authorities and international actors, primarily the World Health Organization (WHO). In early March it declared a State of Emergency, which has been extended through to 4 May.
The capacity of the Palestinian health system to cope with an expected increase in caseload remains severely impaired by longstanding challenges and critical shortages, particularly in Gaza. 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. The imminent influx of up to four thousand Palestinians into Gaza via the Rafah Crossing, who have been unable to return from Egypt until now, will place additional strain on testing capacities and quarantine facilities in Gaza.
The negative impact of movement restrictions, growing unemployment and the closure of schools on the most vulnerable Palestinians is of increasing concern. Reports from service providers indicate that domestic violence affecting women and children is on the rise. The Palestinian Ministry of Social Development (MoSD) estimates that at least 53,000 families across the oPt have fallen into poverty in recent weeks, due to the loss of a source of income. The UN Special Coordinator, Nikolay Mladenov, has also warned of the socio-economic consequences of the crisis on the already-weakened Palestinian economy, with revenues from trade, tourism and transfers declining to their lowest levels in the last two decades, and has reiterated a called for strong international donor support.
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