The Spread of Covid-19 in Gaza Strip, Judea and Samaria (Updated to September 14, 2020)

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Operatives of Hamas' military wing distribute masks in the Rafah district (Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades website, September 10, 2020).

Operatives of Hamas’ military wing distribute masks in the Rafah district (Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades website, September 10, 2020).

Operatives of Hamas' military wing distribute masks in the Rafah district (Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades website, September 10, 2020).

Operatives of Hamas’ military wing distribute masks in the Rafah district (Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades website, September 10, 2020).

UNRWA distributes food (Twitter account of journalist Hassan Aslih, Some of the prominent events were the following: 10, 2020).

UNRWA distributes food (Twitter account of journalist Hassan Aslih, Some of the prominent events were the following: 10, 2020).

UNRWA distributes food (Twitter account of journalist Hassan Aslih, Some of the prominent events were the following: 10, 2020).

UNRWA distributes food (Twitter account of journalist Hassan Aslih, Some of the prominent events were the following: 10, 2020).

Overview
  • The situation in the Gaza Strip:
    • The sharp rise in the extent of Covid-19 infection continues. This past week 776 new active cases were detected (795 last week). The number of active cases currently stands at 1,669, up from 1,054 a week ago. The main epicenters are Gaza City (808 active cases) and the northern Gaza Strip (707).
    • According to the ministry of health in Gaza, the real number of active cases is far higher because many people have not been tested. The ministry reported that 96% of the cases are mild and do not require hospitalization.
    • The Hamas administration continues the strict enforcement of preventive measures with an emphasis on the ban on gatherings, although with occasional exceptions. In some cases force has been used against civilians who violate public health directives, leading to criticism of the security forces’ conduct.
  • The situation in Judea and Samaria:
    • This past week 3,597 new Covid-19 cases were detected in Judea and Samaria. The total number now stands at 8,683, up from 8,230 a week ago.[1] The number of deaths rose to 206 from 173 a week ago. There are 37 Covid-19 patients in ICUs, nine on ventilators.
    • The number of active case has risen in all the Palestinian Authority (PA) districts. The highest number of cases is still in the Hebron district (31%). There were significant increases in the Nablus district (790 cases, up from 403 a week ago), the Jenin district (162, up from 74 a week ago), and the Salfit district (95, up from 57 a week ago). The district governors have reported that mass gatherings (weddings and funerals) have been the main source of the rise in infection.
    • Government and law enforcement have been trying to enforce the public health directives, but without resounding success. A spokesman for the ministry of the interior in Ramallah said that in light of the rise in infection, there may be no alternative but to impose a full lockdown and more severe punishments for violations, although they are aware of the negative consequences of a full lockdown on the economy.
    • In east Jerusalem the slight decline in the number of new active cases continues, and the general trend is towards stability. However, the overall number of active cases remains high (1,779 according to the PA, 1,745 according to the Jerusalem municipality).
    • The Palestinian terrorist organizations (especially Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad) expressed concern over the rise in the number of Palestinians in Israeli jails infected with Covid-19, and accused Israel of neglect (Palinfo, al-Mayadeen, September 8, 2020).
The Gaza Strip
Extent of the Covid-19 infection

This past week 776 new active cases were detected, down from 795 a week ago. As of September 14, 2020, the number of active cases in the Gaza Strip was at 1,669, up from 1,054 a week ago. As of September 10, 2020, 15 people had died, 14 inside the Gaza Strip and one, a woman who returned from abroad (Filastin al-Yawm, September 10, 2020)..

The increase of active cases inside the Gaza Strip since the virus was detected

The increase of active cases inside the Gaza Strip since the virus was detected

  •  According to Dr. Ashraf al-Qidra, spokesman for the ministry of health in Gaza, the graph of the spread of Covid-19 is compatible with the early estimates. He said the ministry of health was certain many active cases existed in the community that had not been diagnosed, and therefore the ministry of health had begun taking random samples. He said 96% of the cases were mild and did not need hospitalization. He added that the measures taken to delay the entrance of coronavirus into the Gaza Strip during the first seven months had made it possible for the ministry of health to prepare itself by training 11,000 medical staff and police to deal with the epidemic (al-Ra’i news agency, September 10, 2020).
Infographic issued by the ministry of health in Gaza on September 13, 2020, showing cumulative data for the number of Covid-19 cases in the Gaza Strip according to district and region (Dunia al-Watan, September 13, 2020).
Infographic issued by the ministry of health in Gaza on September 13, 2020, showing cumulative data for the number of Covid-19 cases in the Gaza Strip according to district and region (Dunia al-Watan, September 13, 2020).
Increasing punishment for violating public health directives
  • Iyad al-Buzum, spokesman for the ministry of the interior in Gaza, said the ministry would impose more severe punishments for violations of public health directives. He said they would not allow a state of disregard for the directives and that punishments would be imposed. He warned that disregarding public health directives could lead to a significant rise in the death toll. He added that the attorney general had issued an order that violators of the directives would be considered criminals and the police would act accordingly (ministry of the interior in Gaza, September 12, 2020).
  • The attorney general in Gaza stressed that all residents were subject to the preventive measures dictated by government agencies. People also had to abide by decisions regarding the closing and reopening of various facilities. The attorney general also reiterated the complete ban on holding public and private gatherings of any sort, such as weddings and the erection of mourning tents. Anyone violating the public health rules and regulations would be considered as having committed a criminal act and would be punished according to the law (Dunia al-Watan, September 10, 2020).
  • Tawfiq Abu Na’im, deputy minister of the interior, said violations of the public health directives had been found in several districts, including attacks on police and operatives of the security services, and they had been compelled to use force. He said the security services was in urgent need of manpower, and to that end in the near future 2,500 new security operatives would be recruited. According to the ministry of the interior, the recruitment of the first 1,500 new operatives would begin on September 12, 2020 (Sawa, September 11, 2020). To overcome the shortage of manpower, the security services are being supported by Hamas’ military wing.
  • Tawfiq Abu Na’im statement came in response to criticism in the Gazan street about the use of force by the security force operatives and police. For example, a report on al-Arabiya TV showed videos uploaded to the social networks by Gazans who complained that Hamas security forces customarily use violence to enforce the lockdown. The residents explained that they are forced to violate the lockdown to support their families (al-Arabiya TV on YouTube, September 5, 2020).
A policeman hits a civilian with a truncheon (al-Arabiya TV on YouTube, September 5, 2020).  Police armed with truncheons enforce the lockdown.
Right: Police armed with truncheons enforce the lockdown. Right: A policeman hits a civilian with a truncheon (al-Arabiya TV on YouTube, September 5, 2020).
Easing restrictions
  • The ministry of the interior in Gaza announced it would ease the preventive measures in a number of districts. However, the curfew would continue in every district, movement between districts would be banned and the security forces would detain anyone who did not strictly follow the public health directives, especially by wearing a mask (Filastin al-Yawm, September 8, 2020; Sawa, September 11, 2020). According to Tawfiq Abu Na’im, deputy minister of the interior, the easing of the preventive measures would be reassessed daily, and revoked if the number of active cases rose (website of the ministry of the interior in Gaza, September 10, 2020).
Press conference held by Tawfiq Abu Na'im, who provided a survey of the measures used to enforce the public health directives (website of the ministry of the interior in Gaza, September 10, 2020).    Removing a roadblock on a street in Gaza City (Facebook page of photojournalist Usama al-Kahlut, September 9, 2020).
Right: Removing a roadblock on a street in Gaza City (Facebook page of photojournalist Usama al-Kahlut, September 9, 2020). Left: Press conference held by Tawfiq Abu Na’im, who provided a survey of the measures used to enforce the public health directives (website of the ministry of the interior in Gaza, September 10, 2020).
Medical aid for the Gaza Strip
The shipment of medical equipment (Facebook page of the W.H.O. office in the PA territories, September 7, 2020).  The shipment of medical equipment (Facebook page of the W.H.O. office in the PA territories, September 7, 2020).
The shipment of medical equipment (Facebook page of the W.H.O. office in the PA territories, September 7, 2020).
Aid for the families affected by Covid-19
  • Salama Maarouf, in charge of the office of information in the Hamas administration, said that during the coming week $100 would be given to each of 70,000 families affected by Covid-19, adding that 120,000 families had already received emergency aid from civilian agencies (Sawa, September 10, 2020).
  • UNRWA began distributing food packages to 72 families quarantined in the Khan Yunis refugee camp (Filastin al-Yawm, September 10, 2020).
Judea and Samaria
Extent of Covid-19 infection in Judea and Samaria
Overview

This past week 3,597 new Covid-19 cases were detected. As of September 13, 2020, the number of active cases in Judea and Samaria stood at 8,683, up from 8,230 a week ago. Most of the active cases are still in the Hebron district (2,736, down from 3,706 a week ago). The total number of Covid-19 cases since the outbreak was 28,755 as of September 13, 2020. The number of deaths in Judea and Samaria is currently 206, up from 173 a week ago. Thirty-seven Palestinians are in ICUs, nine on ventilators.

Covid-19 infection in Judea and Samaria since August 26, 2020

Covid-19 infection in Judea and Samaria since August 26, 2020

Geographic Distribution of COVID-19 Epicenters
Overview

The distribution of active cases in Judea and Samaria (8,683), by district, as of September 13, 2020, was as follows: Hebron, 2,736; Ramallah-al-Bireh, 1,474; the villages around Jerusalem, 944; Bethlehem, 948; Qalqilya, 652; Nablus, 790; Jericho, 465; Tulkarm, 257; Jenin, 162, Salfit, 95; and Tubas, 160.

The distribution of active cases in the various districts

The distribution of active cases in the various districts

Hebron district

The Hebron district still has the highest number of active cases (about 31% of the total in Judea and Samaria). As of September 13, 2020, the number of active cases stood at 2,736, down from 3,706 a week ago.

Active cases in the Hebron district

Active cases in the Hebron district

Ramallah district

The number of active cases in the Ramallah district stands at 1,474, up from 1,166 a week ago. The Ramallah district has the second highest number of active Covid-19 cases in Judea and Samaria.

  • The department monitoring the implementation of court sentences in Ramallah was closed after a judge and clerk were diagnosed with Covid-19 (qudsnet.com, September 13, 2020). A wedding hall in the Jalazone refugee camp was closed after violating public health directives by holding events (Facebook page of Layla Ghanem, government of the Ramallah and al-Bireh district, September 10, 2020).
Bethlehem district

The number of active cases in the Bethlehem district rose to 948, up from 815 a week ago.

Nablus district

The number of active cases in the Nablus district rose significantly to 790, up from 403 a week ago.

  • In light of the sharp rise in the number of infections, the Covid-19 emergency committee in Nablus is examining locking down the entire district for a week. According to Inan al-Atira, deputy governor of the Nablus district, the number of epicenters increased because people held private parties and weddings at home. She called on local residents to follow public health directives (Wafa, September 13, 2020).
  • Ibrahim Ramadan, governor of the Nablus district, imposed local lockdowns and to enforce preventive measures more strictly in several locations where active cases were detected. Among the locations were the Ayn Bayt al-Maa refugee camp (northwest of Nablus); the offices of the district governor, after one of the employees was infected with Covid-19 (Dunia al-Watan, September 12, 2020); the clinic in the old Ascar refugee camp (Wafa, September 9, 2020) and a number of villages.
Salfit district

The number of active cases in the Salfit district rose to 95, up from 57 a week ago.

Jenin district

The number of active cases in the Jenin district rose significantly to 162, up from 74 a week ago. Despite the rise in Covid-19 infections and warnings about transmission, weddings and other large events continue to be held. During the week the police broke up more than ten wedding parties, closed reception venues and detained their owners (website of the PA police, September 7, 8, 9 and 12, 2020). Israeli Arabs are banned from entering the district until the epidemic has been ended. A 48-hour lockdown is imposed on any region where active Covid-19 cases are detected (Dunia al-Watan, September 8, 2020).

  • According to Akram al-Rajoub, the governor of the Jenin district, 98% of all the active case were transmitted at weddings, including weddings held outside the Jenin district (Facebook page of the Arab-American University radio station, AAUP Radio, September 7, 2020).
  • The rise in the number of infections put pressure on the hospitals. The administration of the government hospital in Jenin announced it was closing most of its outpatient care units because of the growing number of Covid-19 infections and to protect patients and staff from the virus. It was also reported that the wards would be reorganized so they could be used for Covid-19 patients (al-Quds, September 12, 2020).
The police disinfect schools in the city of Jenin (website of the PA police, September 7, 2020).    The police disinfect schools in the city of Jenin (website of the PA police, September 7, 2020).
The police disinfect schools in the city of Jenin (website of the PA police, September 7, 2020).
Tulkarm district

The number of active cases in the Tulkarm district almost doubled, rising to 257 from 130 last week.

Qalqilya district

The number of active cases in the Qalqilya district rose to 652, up from 581 a week ago.

  • Rafi’ Rawajba, governor of the Qalqilya district, announced that gatherings and social events, especially weddings, were behind the spread of the virus (Facebook page of Rafi’ Rawajba, September 8, 2020). He called on local residents not to hold or attend meetings, weddings or funerals, to wear masks and to follow the directives issued by the relevant authorities. The law enforcement agencies in the district received orders to increase patrols and impose fines on criminals (Facebook page of Rafi’ Rawajba, September 9, 2020).
  • The ministry of health in Ramallah designated the Omar al-Qassem Hospital in Azoun, in the center of the Qalqilya district, as a center for treating Covid-19 patients. A campaign was then initiated for donations to buy medical equipment for the hospital. A ceremony was held to inaugurate the campaign on the al-Quds University campus, where donations were collected (Facebook page of Rafi’ Rawajba, September 9, 2020).
The villages around Jerusalem

The number of active cases in the villages around Jerusalem continues to rise, with 944 active cases, up from 850 a week ago.

  • Following a report of the appearance of a singer and his band at a village northwest of Jerusalem, a force of the suburban police detained the singer and seven members of his band (website of the PA police, September 8, 2020).
The East Jerusalem Neighborhoods

This past week 1.051 new cases of Covid-19 were detected in east Jerusalem. According to PA reports the number of active cases in the east Jerusalem neighborhoods continues to decline. As of September 13, 2020, the number of active cases stood at 1,737, down from 1,779 a week ago. According to Jerusalem municipality reports, the number of active cases as of September 13, 2020, was 1,745, up from 1,459 a week ago. Since the outbreak of Covid-19 in east Jerusalem there have been 8,936 cases (Facebook page of the PA ministry of health in Ramallah, updated to September 13, 2020). According to PA reports 29 Palestinians have died in east Jerusalem.

The number of active Covid-19 cases in the east Jerusalem neighborhoods, according to PA reports (since the beginning of August 2020)

The number of active Covid-19 cases in the east Jerusalem neighborhoods, according to PA reports (since the beginning of August 2020)

The total number of active Covid-19 cases in Jerusalem, according to PA reports (since the beginning of July 2020)

The total number of active Covid-19 cases in Jerusalem, according to PA reports (since the beginning of July 2020)

  • Ghassan Nimr, spokesman for the PA ministry of the interior, said that given the rise in the number of Covid-19 cases and the residents’ disregard of procedures and directives, a full lockdown might be imposed at any moment. He proposed increasing both preventive measures and punishments. He said a full lockdown would have consequences for the Palestinian economy and schools (Ma’an, September 13, 2020).
Support for the PA
  •  PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh and the German government signed an agreement for €17 million from Germany and the UN Development Program. Muhammad Shtayyeh said €10 million would be used to pay the salaries of ministry of health medical teams and administrators (Dunia al-Watan, September 10, 2020).
Signing the agreement for aid from Germany (Wafa, September 10, 2020)
Signing the agreement for aid from Germany (Wafa, September 10, 2020)
  • Mai al-Kayla, PA minister of health, met in her office with Philippe Lazzarini, UNRWA commissioner general. She briefed him on her visit to the Gaza Strip and praised UNRWA’s international efforts to support the Palestinian refugees. Lazzarini praised the efforts of the ministry of health in its fight against Covid-19, and said cooperation between UNRWA and the ministry of health would continue (Wafa, September 10, 2020).
The PA ministry of health meets with the UNRWA commissioner general (Facebook page of the ministry of health in Ramallah, September 10, 2020).
The PA ministry of health meets with the UNRWA commissioner general
(Facebook page of the ministry of health in Ramallah, September 10, 2020).
  • The PA ministry of health received 15 advanced ventilators, donated by British institutions (Wafa, September 10, 2020).
  • Jica, the Japan International Cooperation Agency, gave the PLO’s department for refugee affairs medical equipment and PPE, which was distributed to the refugee camps (Wafa, September 12, 2020).

[1] The overall number representatives active cases minus the number of Palestinians who recovered.



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