Gaza “ill-equipped to face a major spike” in COVID-19 cases

Nikolay Mladenov, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, said yesterday in a briefing to the Security Council that Gaza’s “crumbling infrastructure, poor living conditions and fragile healthcare system make it ill-equipped to face a major spike in COVID-19 cases.”

He stated, “Already affected by severe movement and access restrictions, cycles of violent escalation and years of humanitarian and socio-economic calamity, the two million Palestinians living within Gaza’s confines would face catastrophic consequences from a major outbreak.”

He added, “Eight months into the pandemic, Palestinian unemployment levels are alarmingly high – 121,000 Palestinians lost their jobs in the wake of the first lockdown and employment figures declined by 17 percent in Gaza.”

He also declared that reports suggest any recovery will be “slow and partial.”

He said that the UN and its partners have continued to provide “critical humanitarian and development assistance.” and that since the start of the pandemic, “close to 85,000 tests and advanced laboratory equipment components have been delivered, as well as over 5.5 million items for infection protection and control.”

The UN also has supported several quarantine facilities in Gaza with non-food items, bolstered public communication efforts and trained healthcare professionals, as Mladenov stated.

In addition, he said that “Temporary arrangements by the UN and implemented by the World Health Organization continue to facilitate both the transfer of medical patients out of Gaza and the importation of humanitarian supplies for the Palestinian people.”

Also, he welcomed the Palestinian Authority’s decision to restart civilian and security coordination with ‘Israel’, saying he hope with the restarting of coordination, these additional measures will no longer be necessary.

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