By Humairaa Mayet
Israel’s 13-year long siege on the Gaza Strip has dealt severe blows to the Palestinian economy, and many fear that the Covid-19 pandemic will only worsen Gaza’s economic position.
Dr. Medhat Abbas, a medical practitioner and the general director of primary care in Gaza, spoke to Salaamedia’s Azhar Vadi on The Alternative View.
Upon hearing the news of the 2019 outbreak in Wuhan, many predicted that the coronavirus would eventually reach the Gaza Strip. As soon as the virus was brought into the territory by Palestinians returning from Pakistan, several measures have been implemented in an attempt to slow the spread of Covid-19.
Abbas explained that people were initially asked to self-isolate, however, this did not prove to be especially effective as self-isolation is not a viable option in the world’s largest open-air prison. Gaza, therefore, opened 27 quarantine centres where those who have returned from other countries must reside so as to stop the virus from spreading to the masses. Patients must remain in these centres for 21 days.
A special hospital just for the treatment of coronavirus patients has been established near the Egyptian border, and all confirmed cases are transported there. Thus far, this has allowed for the community inside the Gaza Strip to remain free of Covid-19, which is essential due to the poverty which plagues the area.
According to Abbas, Gaza’s healthcare system would be unable to sustain a widespread outbreak, as even the systems of countries such as America, Spain, and Italy are beginning to feel the strain. Furthermore, there is a shortage of staff, as well as respirators and other medical equipment, and there are only 2000 beds available in the hospital.
Israel’s siege on the Palestinian territory is restricting the deployment of aid and equipment and limiting the capacity for social distancing.
Abbas called on people around the world to extend a helping hand and assist those living under occupation in the Gaza Strip by providing much needed resources such as respirators. The pandemic will prove detrimental to all two million people in Gaza if Israel’s siege is not lifted.
Featured image via FreePik.