The Spread of Covid-19 in Gaza Strip,Judea and Samaria (Updated to November 16, 2020)

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The full lockdown of the village of Tel in the Nablus district after 50 active cases were detected (Wafa, November 15, 2020)

The full lockdown of the village of Tel in the Nablus district after 50 active cases were detected (Wafa, November 15, 2020)

Reception held in the town of Sebastia for Hamas terrorist Samer Yahya Muhammad Darwish, who was released from an Israeli jail after having 19 years. No masks, no social distancing

Reception held in the town of Sebastia for Hamas terrorist Samer Yahya Muhammad Darwish, who was released from an Israeli jail after having 19 years. No masks, no social distancing

A wedding party in Nablus. No masks, no social distancing (Facebook page of the al-Issawi Studio in Bayta, in the Nablus district, November 14, 2020).

A wedding party in Nablus. No masks, no social distancing (Facebook page of the al-Issawi Studio in Bayta, in the Nablus district, November 14, 2020).

A wedding party in Nablus. No masks, no social distancing (Facebook page of the al-Issawi Studio in Bayta, in the Nablus district, November 14, 2020).

A wedding party in Nablus. No masks, no social distancing (Facebook page of the al-Issawi Studio in Bayta, in the Nablus district, November 14, 2020).

A bachelor party in the village of Kafr Ra'i (about 40 kilometers from Jenin). No masks, no social distancing (Facebook page of Rotana Recording, Kafr Ra'i, November 12, 2020).

A bachelor party in the village of Kafr Ra’i (about 40 kilometers from Jenin). No masks, no social distancing (Facebook page of Rotana Recording, Kafr Ra’i, November 12, 2020).

A wedding in Yamun. No masks, no social distancing (alyamun.alhaabeba, November 13, 2020).

A wedding in Yamun. No masks, no social distancing (alyamun.alhaabeba, November 13, 2020).

Walid Assaf, chairman of the Palestinian authority for the struggle against the fence and the settlements, at a wedding of a relative in the village of Kafr Laqf in the Qalqilya district. No masks, no social distancing (Facebook page of the village council, November 14, 2020).

Walid Assaf, chairman of the Palestinian authority for the struggle against the fence and the settlements, at a wedding of a relative in the village of Kafr Laqf in the Qalqilya district. No masks, no social distancing (Facebook page of the village council, November 14, 2020).

The mass funeral held for Saeb Erekat. Masks, no social distancing. The cortège left from the Muqata'a in Ramallah, passed through the city streets and from there to Jericho (Wafa, November 11, 2020).

The mass funeral held for Saeb Erekat. Masks, no social distancing. The cortège left from the Muqata’a in Ramallah, passed through the city streets and from there to Jericho (Wafa, November 11, 2020).

A wedding held in the village of Anata. No masks, no social distancing (Right: Facebook page of the Jod Studio, November 11, 2020; left: Facebook page of the Alizz Studio, November 13, 2020).

A wedding held in the village of Anata. No masks, no social distancing (Right: Facebook page of the Jod Studio, November 11, 2020; left: Facebook page of the Alizz Studio, November 13, 2020).

A wedding in Issawiya in east Jerusalem. The groom is carrying an M-16 assault rifle. No masks, no social distancing (Master Cassette YouTube channel, November 14, 2020).

A wedding in Issawiya in east Jerusalem. The groom is carrying an M-16 assault rifle. No masks, no social distancing (Master Cassette YouTube channel, November 14, 2020).

Wedding in the Shuafat refugee camp, part of the Jerusalem municipality. No masks, no social distancing (Master Cassette Productions Company YouTube channel, November 11, 2020).

Wedding in the Shuafat refugee camp, part of the Jerusalem municipality. No masks, no social distancing (Master Cassette Productions Company YouTube channel, November 11, 2020).

A wedding in Kafr 'Aqab. No masks, no social distancing (Facebook page of they Miran Studio, November 14, 2020).

A wedding in Kafr ‘Aqab. No masks, no social distancing (Facebook page of they Miran Studio, November 14, 2020).

A wedding in Kafr 'Aqab. No masks, no social distancing (Facebook page of they Miran Studio, November 14, 2020).

A wedding in Kafr ‘Aqab. No masks, no social distancing (Facebook page of they Miran Studio, November 14, 2020).

Overview
  • In the Gaza Strip the sharp rise in the number of active Covid-19 cases continues. As of November 16, 2020, the number stood at 3,366, up from 3,014 a week ago. The number of serious and critical cases has also risen. Senior figures in the public health system say they are approaching the limits of their capabilities. If the rise in infection continues it will be necessary to impose a full lockdown on the Gaza Strip.
  • In Judea and Samaria the sharp rise in the number of active Covid-19 cases continues. As of November 15, 2020, there were 4,897 active cases, up from 4,281 a week ago. The Nablus district continues as the top Covid-19 epicenter. The district governors continue implementing localized preventive measures but are reluctant to impose a general lockdown.
  • According to Mai al-Kayla, PA minister of health, the actual number of Covid-19 cases in the Palestinian Authority (PA) territories is three times greater than what is reported by the media. That supports Israel’s assessments that the extent of infection and mortality in Judea and Samaria is larger than the reports. However, extensive infection in the PA territories increases the risks of mutual infection between Israeli Arabs and the Palestinian population. The main interfaces are Israeli Arab visits to Judea and Samaria, Palestinians who work (legally or illegally) in Israel, Israeli Arab weddings held in Palestinian wedding halls and east Jerusalem Arabs who go to work in west Jerusalem.
The Gaza Strip
Extent of the Covid-19 infection

In the Gaza Strip the number of new active cases continues spiking. Between November 10 and 16, 2020, 2,245 new cases were detected (compared with 1,738 a week ago). As of November 16, 2020, the number of active cases was 3,366 (up from 3,014 a week ago). So far, there have been 48 coronavirus-related deaths, up from 39 a week ago.

The increase of active cases inside the Gaza Strip over the past week

The increase of active cases inside the Gaza Strip over the past week

Red areas
  •  As of November 15, 2020, according to the ministry of health in Gaza the red areas are: the northern Gaza Strip, most of the Gaza City district, the Jabalia and Nuseirat refugee camps, the city of Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip, the center of the city of Khan Yunis and the eastern and western areas of the Rafah district (Sabaq24, November 15, 2020). Dr. Ashraf al-Qidra, spokesman for the ministry of health in the Gaza Strip, said the number of red areas rose from four to 24.
Ministry of health in Gaza infographic of the cumulative statistics of Covid-19 in the Gaza Strip, by district and area (Facebook page of the medical committee for combatting the coronavirus in the ministry of health in Gaza, November 15, 2020).
Ministry of health in Gaza infographic of the cumulative statistics of Covid-19 in the Gaza Strip, by district and area (Facebook page of the medical committee for combatting the coronavirus in the ministry of health in Gaza, November 15, 2020).
The public health system in Gaza’s difficulties in coping with the rise in infection
  • Yusuf al-Akkad, director of the European Gaza Hospital, the main epidemiological center in the Gaza Strip, said the hospital had almost reached capacity and could not admit more Covid-19 patients. He said there were 13 ICU coronavirus patients, all of whom needed ventilators. Seven of them, he said, were young and without preexisting conditions (Paltoday, November 15, 2020). On a different occasion he said the hospital was almost full to capacity. He added that the school next to the hospital, which had been prepared for Covid-19 patients, had already admitted 150 active cases and there was room for only 25 more. He said ICU beds were still available for coronavirus patients, but that at any given moment the hospital might have to announce it was full (Sabaq24, November 14, 2020).
  • Majdi Zuheir, head of the department of preventive medicine in the ministry of health in Gaza, called for a [full] lockdown because of the spike in infection. He said the occupancy of beds meant for Covid-19 patients had risen to 40%. He added that ten days ago 10% of the beds were occupied, which indicated a serious situation. He also said that they might have to impose a full lockdown on the Gaza Strip if the number of new infections continued to rise and local residents did not employ preventive measures and follow public health guidelines. He stressed that the opening of the universities, direct contact between people and the freedom of movement inside Gaza from north to south contributed to the spread of the virus to the southern Gaza Strip (Dunia al-Watan, November 12, 2020).
Change in hospital admitting policy
  • The ministry of health in Gaza announced that for the time being new Covid-19 cases would self-isolate at home. Exceptions are people whose conditions necessitate medical treatment, who would be quarantined and treated at medical centers. People who do not have suitable conditions at home for self-isolation would be quarantined at designated medical centers (Facebook page of the ministry of health in Gaza’s committee for combatting Covid-19, November 14, 2020).
  • Dr. Ashraf al-Qidra, spokesman for the ministry of health in the Gaza Strip, said the change of hospital policy was because of the rise in the number of infections, which exerted pressure on the public health system and its staff. He said that the European Gaza Hospital and the Turkish Hospital would now treat only serious and critical cases (Sabaq24, November 15, 2020). Majdi Zuheir, head of the department of preventive medicine in the ministry of health in Gaza, said the number of moderately, seriously and critically ill patients had risen (al-Andalou News, November 14, 2020)
New preventive measures
  • In view of the rise in Covid-19 infection, various agencies involved in combatting the virus announced the following measures:
    • The ministry of the interior in Gaza announced that as of November 15, 2020, all stores, small businesses and facilities would close at 17:00 until further notice. Gatherings of more than 15 people would be forbidden, including mourning tents and weddings, and the ban on crowds in the markets would be more strictly enforced. The ministry of the interior also noted that the 20:00 curfew was still in force, and that the police would increase enforcement of mask-wearing (ministry of the interior in Gaza website, November 12, 2020).
    • Iyad al-Buzum, spokesman for the ministry of the interior in Gaza, said implementing the measures would obviate the need for a general lockdown, which would cause great financial loss. He said closing businesses and stores at 17:00 would reduce crowding. He added that mourning tents and weddings were behind the spreading the virus, and that some clans still did not take preventive measures. He called on local residents to limit weddings and mourning tents (ministry of the interior in Gaza website, November 15, 2020). The chief of police in the al-Rimal neighborhood of Gaza City reported that his operatives had dispersed two convoys of wedding-party cars accompanied by musicians. They detained 14 musicians and confiscated their equipment (ministry of the interior in Gaza website, November 14, 2020).
    • The Covid-19 task force met with the Gaza Strip’s attorney general. They decided to take harsher steps against people who violated the government’s public health guidelines, stating that punishment would range from fines to imprisonment (al-Ra’i news agency, November 13, 2020). Iyad al-Buzum, spokesman for the ministry of the interior in Gaza, said punishments would be graded from a promise not to repeat the violation, to a 48-hour detention for a repetition, to a 15-day detention and trial for repeat offenders (ministry of the interior in Gaza website, November 15, 2020).
    • Colonel Tamer Shehadeh, commander of the traffic police, said they planned to impose fines because of the increase in the number of infections (al-Ra’i news agency, November 10, 2020).
The traffic police in the Gaza Strip enforce mask-wearing (Facebook page of the traffic police in Gaza, November 15, 2020).    The traffic police in the Gaza Strip enforce mask-wearing (Facebook page of the traffic police in Gaza, November 15, 2020).
The traffic police in the Gaza Strip enforce mask-wearing
(Facebook page of the traffic police in Gaza, November 15, 2020).
The return to school
  • Despite the increase in the rate of infection and the severity of the preventive measures, the ministry of education in Gaza has begun the third phase of returning students to school. First- through sixth-grade students in the western Gaza Strip returned to school on November 10, 2020 (al-Ra’i news agency, November 10, 2020). In other districts they returned on November 11, 2020 (al-Ra’i news agency, November 11, 2020; the Facebook page of the department of education in eastern Gaza, November 11, 2020). Kindergartens reopened on November 14, 2020. UNRWA decided not to open its elementary schools at this time (refugeesps.net, November 14, 2020).
Judea and Samaria
Extent of Covid-19 infection in Judea and Samaria (updated to November 15, 2020)
Overview

This past week the number of active cases in Judea and Samaria continued rising with the detection of 2,811 new cases. As of November 15, 2020, the number of active cases in Judea and Samaria stood at 4,897, up from 4,281 a week ago. Since the outbreak of Covid-19 in Judea and Samaria 52,499 active case have been detected. The number of deaths rose by 40 to 517, up from 477 a week ago. Thirty-nine Palestinians are in ICUs, ten of them on ventilators.

  • On November 14, 2020, Mai al-Kayla, PA minister of health, was interviewed by Voice of Palestine radio. She said the extent of infection and death in the PA districts is very high. She said the actual number of active cases is three times higher than what is reported by the media. She added that local residents do not obey health guidelines and do not take preventive measures. For example, in the Nablus district weddings are still held; the residents of the village of Qusra in the Nablus district expelled a medical team that had come to administer Covid-19 tests to villagers. In addition local residents throughout the Hebron district expelled Covid-19 test teams because they did not want to be quarantined (Dunia al-Watan, November 14, 2020).

Mai al-Kayla’s statement supports Israel’s assessments that the extent of infection and mortality in Judea and Samaria is greater that what has been reported. The extensive infection in Judea and Samaria increases the mutual reinfection of Israeli Arabs and Palestinians as tens of thousands of Israeli Arabs go to the PA territories for entertainment and shopping, and tens of thousands of Palestinians come into Israel for work.

Covid-19 infection in Judea and Samaria since October 10, 2020

Covid-19 infection in Judea and Samaria since October 10, 2020

Geographic Distribution of COVID-19 Epicenters
Overview
  • The Nablus district is still the Covid-19 epicenter, with 1,654 new cases this past week, up from 1,453 a week ago. Infection in the Hebron district continues declining. The distribution of active cases in Judea and Samaria (4,897), by district, as of November 15, 2020, was the following: Nablus, 1,654; Bethlehem, 1,050; Ramallah, 530; Hebron, 416; Qalqilya, 290; Jenin, 281; Tulkarm, 235; Jericho, 152; Salfit, 1121; the villages around Jerusalem, 94; and Tubas, 74.
The distribution of active cases in the various districts

The distribution of active cases in the various districts

Hebron district

The decline in the number of active cases in the Hebron district continues, after months of having the highest numbers in Judea and Samaria. As of November 15, 2020, the number of active cases stood at 416, down from 429 a week ago. The Hebron district currently has the fourth largest number of cases in the PA territories (third largest last week).

Number of active cases in the Hebron district

Number of active cases in the Hebron district

Nablus district

This past week the extent of infection in the Nablus remained highest in Judea and Samaria. As of November 15, 2020, were there 1,654 active cases, up from 1,453 a week ago. The Nablus district governor imposed a night lockdown but has not yet imposed a general lockdown, despite the extent of infection.

  • The Nablus district emergency committee for combatting Covid-19 met with Mai al-Kayla, PA minister of health. They decided to impose a night lockdown throughout the district from 19:00 at night to 06:00 in the morning (from the evening of November 16 to the morning of November 21). The district governor ordered greater supervision and harsher punishment for people violating public health orders (Facebook page of the Nablus district governor, November 15, 2020).
  • The emergency committee in the Nablus district recently issued an alert regarding the extent of infection and calling on local residents to implement preventive measures:
    • On November 11 the committee reported that the rate of infection of tests administered during the previous 24 hours was 33% of all the Palestinians tested. The percentage included members of medical teams as well as a number of teachers and students. Three schools in the district were closed (Facebook page of the Nablus district governor, November 11, 2020). On November 12 the committee reported that during the previous 24 hours 123 active case had been found out of 384 tests administered, i.e., between 32% and 33%. The percentage of active cases rose to 36% on November 13, 2020.
    • The committee called on local residents to employ preventive measures and practice social distancing, to keep away from crowds and to wear masks. It reported that the department of education in Nablus was closed for disinfecting after staff workers tested positive, and for contact tracing. Four schools in the Nablus district were closed (Facebook page of the Nablus district governor, November 12, 2020).
    • The committee expressed its concern that the public health system would not be able to continue caring for all the active cases after the number of the medical staff who had tested positive rose to 55. The committee urged residents to practice social distancing and wear masks wherever they went, and warned that if the situation worsened they might have to impose a general lockdown (Facebook page of the Nablus district governor, November 13, 2020).
Reception held in the town of Sebastia for Hamas terrorist Samer Yahya Muhammad Darwish, who was released from an Israeli jail after having 19 years. No masks, no social distancing    Reception held in the town of Sebastia for Hamas terrorist Samer Yahya Muhammad Darwish, who was released from an Israeli jail after having 19 years. No masks, no social distancing
Reception held in the town of Sebastia for Hamas terrorist Samer Yahya Muhammad Darwish, who was released from an Israeli jail after having 19 years. No masks, no social distancing (Right: Facebook page of senior Hamas figure Wasfi Qabha, November 13, 2020. Left: Facebook page of photographer Sidam Salah from Burqa, in the Nablus district, November 12, 2020).
A wedding party in Nablus. No masks, no social distancing (Facebook page of the al-Issawi Studio in Bayta, in the Nablus district, November 14, 2020).    A wedding party in Nablus. No masks, no social distancing (Facebook page of the al-Issawi Studio in Bayta, in the Nablus district, November 14, 2020).
A wedding party in Nablus. No masks, no social distancing (Facebook page of the al-Issawi Studio in Bayta, in the Nablus district, November 14, 2020).
Jenin district

There was a sharp rise in the number of active cases in the Jenin district, while the overall number remained similar. As of November 15, 2020, there were 281 active cases, down from 298 last week.

  •  On November 14, 2020, the police dispersed several weddings in the Jenin district and closed two wedding halls (PA police website November 15, 2020). Nevertheless, weddings apparently continue being held with virtually no interference, while guests disregard public health guidelines.
A wedding in Yamun. No masks, no social distancing (alyamun.alhabeba, November 13, 2020).    A wedding in the village of Sanur in the Jenin district. No masks, no social distancing (Facebook page of the al-Badad Mujba Studio in the Jenin district, November 14, 2020).
Right: A wedding in the village of Sanur in the Jenin district. No masks, no social distancing (Facebook page of the al-Badad Mujba Studio in the Jenin district, November 14, 2020). Left: A wedding in Yamun. No masks, no social distancing (alyamun.alhabeba, November 13, 2020).
Qalqilya district

As of November 15, 2020, the number of verified Covid-19 cases in the Qalqilya district was 290, up from 190 a week ago.

  • Rafi’ Rawajba, the governor of the Qalqilya district, chaired a meeting of the district’s emergency Covid-19 committee to discuss the epidemiological situation. He said the curve had risen since the beginning of November, before which the situation had been under control for a number of months. He added that weddings were the main coronavirus spreaders.
  • He said a lockdown was not his first choice and he had no intention of imposing one, but the alternative was the strict employing of preventive measures. He called on local residents to strongly oppose holding weddings, which had led to a rise in the extent of the infection, and called on the security forces to take stricter measures to prevent weddings and all other forms of gatherings (Facebook page of the Qalqilya district governor, November 14, 2020).
Walid Assaf, chairman of the Palestinian authority for the struggle against the fence and the settlements, at a wedding of a relative in the village of Kafr Laqf in the Qalqilya district. No masks, no social distancing (Facebook page of the village council, November 14, 2020).   Walid Assaf, chairman of the Palestinian authority for the struggle against the fence and the settlements, at a wedding of a relative in the village of Kafr Laqf in the Qalqilya district. No masks, no social distancing (Facebook page of the village council, November 14, 2020).
Walid Assaf, chairman of the Palestinian authority for the struggle against the fence and the settlements, at a wedding of a relative in the village of Kafr Laqf in the Qalqilya district. No masks, no social distancing (Facebook page of the village council, November 14, 2020).
Jericho district

As of November 15, 2020, the number of verified Covid-19 cases in the Jericho district was 152, up from 139 a week ago.

The mass funeral held for Saeb Erekat. Masks, no social distancing. The cortège left from the Muqata'a in Ramallah, passed through the city streets and from there to Jericho (Wafa, November 11, 2020).    The mass funeral held for Saeb Erekat. Masks, no social distancing. The cortège left from the Muqata'a in Ramallah, passed through the city streets and from there to Jericho (Wafa, November 11, 2020).
The mass funeral held for Saeb Erekat. Masks, no social distancing. The cortège left from the Muqata’a in Ramallah, passed through the city streets and from there to Jericho (Wafa, November 11, 2020).
The villages around Jerusalem

As of November 15, 2020, the number of active Covid-19 cases in the villages around Jerusalem was 94, down from 96 a week ago. This past week as well, weddings were held in the villages around Jerusalem. Presumably some of the guests came from east Jerusalem.

The East Jerusalem Neighborhoods

The number of active cases in the east Jerusalem neighborhoods increased this past week. According to the PA, as of November 15, 2020, there were 296 new cases and the number of active cases stood at 620, up from 423 a week ago. According to the Jerusalem municipality, on November 16, 2020, the number of verified active cases was 394, up from 344 a week ago. According to the Jerusalem municipality, so far 94 residents of east Jerusalem have died, and this past week the positive tested rate of infection was high, 9.2% up from 8.9% a week ago.

The number of active Covid-19 cases in east Jerusalem, according to the PA

The number of active Covid-19 cases in east Jerusalem, according to the PA

The total number of Covid-19 cases in east Jerusalem, according to the PA

The total number of Covid-19 cases in east Jerusalem, according to the PA

The distribution of Covid-19 infection in east Jerusalem
(According to the Jerusalem municipality, November 16, 2020)

The distribution of Covid-19 infection in east Jerusalem (According to the Jerusalem municipality, November 16, 2020)

A wedding in Issawiya in east Jerusalem. The groom is carrying an M-16 assault rifle. No masks, no social distancing (Master Cassette YouTube channel, November 14, 2020).   A wedding in Issawiya in east Jerusalem. The groom is carrying an M-16 assault rifle. No masks, no social distancing (Master Cassette YouTube channel, November 14, 2020).
A wedding in Issawiya in east Jerusalem. The groom is carrying an M-16 assault rifle. No masks, no social distancing (Master Cassette YouTube channel, November 14, 2020).
The PA Combats Covid-19
  • At the weekly PA government meeting on November 9, 2020, PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh ordered the Palestinian public health system to improve its capabilities before winter. He ordered all government hospitals to be provided with more beds, more ventilators and more medical equipment (Facebook page of the ministry of health in Ramallah, November 10, 2020).
  • Mai al-Kayla, PA minister of health, gave an update on the Palestinian ministry of health’s preparations for winter. She said the ministry had extended its corona-specific services. For example, the ministry had added 600 beds to its seven coronavirus centers. It had added 110 ventilators, bringing the ministry of health’s number to 270. She said the total number of ventilators, including those in private hospitals, was 500.
  • The minister of health said they did not want to impose a general lockdown, but everything depended on the degree to which the Palestinian public obeyed public health guidelines and implemented preventive measures (especially weaking masks, practicing social distancing and avoiding gatherings). She added that the ministry of health had appointed a committee to follow the development of a vaccine. Regarding ordinary seasonal flu, she said they had purchased 50,000 doses of the vaccine from UNICEF, and would purchase 50,000 more. They were supposed to be delivered on October 27, 2020, but the Korean company that manufactured the vaccine recalled the vaccine that had been delivered to the agency’s warehouse in Copenhagen (Facebook page of the Palestinian ministry of health in Ramallah, November 10, 2020). On another occasion Mai al-Kayla said that the PA would receive the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer through an organization that helps underprivileged countries (Wafa, November 14, 2020).



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