World Health organization oPt
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Report 48

occupied Palestinian territory, issued 15 October 2020
Information for period: 5 March – 15 October 2020

Highlights

  • Planning is progressing to prepare the health system to secure COVID-19 vaccine – once available – for most vulnerable target groups in Palestine
  • Government of Germany provides $1 million to support the COVID-19 response
WHO thanked the Government of Germany for its contribution of US $1 million to support the response to COVID-19 in Palestine. WHO’s Head of Office Dr Gerald Rockenschaub and the Head of the German Representative Office in Ramallah, Mr Christian Clages, are pictured with two COVID-19 rapid testing kits.  The new funding will help scale up COVID-19 testing and address other urgent needs, including training of intensive care unit doctors in Gaza.  
WHO preparedness, readiness and response

WHO is continuing to work with partners to support Ministry of Health’s (MoH) efforts to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Key Performance Indicators for COVID-19 Response in oPt

 Coordination, planning and monitoring ​

  • WHO, UNICEF and other key partners support the MoH in development of the COVID-19 vaccine deployment plan to ensure a smooth introduction of COVID-19 vaccine once it would become available
  • Palestine is among the 92 countries to receive funding for procurement of COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX facility supported by GAVI and other partners.
  • The funding will cover up to 20% of vaccine needs, prioritising vulnerable groups: health and social workers, people above 65 years and those under 65 with underlying conditions
  • In the Gaza Strip a curfew is still in place in all governorates from 20:00 to 07:00
  • Around 35,000 Tawjihi (senior high) students returned to school under strict precautionary measures, on 10 October, as an initial step to resuming school attendance, in the Gaza Strip
  • The lockdown in Israel, affecting East Jerusalem, has been extended until October 18
  • WHO continues to support the coordination for import and delivery of essential equipment:
    • This month, WHO has delivered 20 COVID-19 extraction kits (for 20,000 tests) and 22,000 swabs to Gaza
    • Six defibrillators were delivered to MoH in Ramallah on 15 October
    • 10 oxygen concentrators were delivered to local health authorities in the Gaza Strip on 15 October (see image).
Surveillance  
  • The WHO risk assessment remains very high as the number of people testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 continues to increase
  •  From 1-15 October, the total number of COVID-19 cases rose by 6,900 cases (on average 460 cases per day). Four hundred and seventy-one have died, with an overall case fatality rate (CFR) of 0.82%.
Laboratory diagnostics  ​
WHO delivered five extraction kits to local health authorities in the Gaza Strip to conduct COVID-19 testing for 10,000 people. This delivery is in addition to further quantities in the pipeline, which have been supported by the Government of Germany. ​
  • A total of 463,427 laboratory samples have been tested for COVID-19.
Infection Prevention and Control (IPC), Isolation and Case Management, Operations Support and Logistics 
The Palestinian National Institute of Public Health (PNIPH) team and WHO in the Gaza Strip, conducted the third in a series of infection prevention and control training for 16 health providers working in maternal and child health services. So far, a total of 51 reproductive healthcare providers underwent the training. 

Under the leadership of the MoH, PNIPH in the West Bank is conducting training between September and December 2020 to build the capacity of the local emergency health workforce. So far, 33 doctors and nurses have participated in the BASIC (Basic Assessment and Support in Intensive Care) course, conducted in partnership with Juzoor for Health and Social Development and Augusta Victoria Hospital. About 80 doctors, nurses, and emergency medical technicians working in emergency units at MoH and private sector hospitals have taken the BLS (Basic Life Support) course conducted in partnership with the MoH Emergency and Disaster Unit. These courses are helping to build health workers’ skills and knowledge to support critical care of COVID-19 patients. ​

  • 15,200 Palestinians are in quarantine (home or facility-based) to prevent further spread of the disease
  • In the Gaza Strip, 147 people are in one of three quarantine facilities which include health facilities, hotels and other designated buildings
  • WHO is supporting the MoH to train 60 junior doctors and 200 nurses on intensive care treatment protocols to enhance capacity to manage critical patients. Lectures and practical training will be conducted over a three-week period and continue with mentoring in hospital settings. This training was supported by the Government of Canada
  • WHO continues to coordinate and support the delivery of vital medical equipment for the COVID-19 response across Gaza and the West Bank (see images for details).

Today, WHO delivered 10 oxygen concentrators to the local health authorities in the Gaza Strip. This equipment uses air in the surrounding atmosphere to create oxygen-rich air for patients and will help enhance and sustain the essential services of the emergency departments in five main hospitals in the Gaza Strip. Thanks to EU Humanitarian AID. ​

Mental health and psychosocial support ​

Fear, anxiety and social isolation associated with COVID-19 has placed Palestinians under immense and unprecedented pressure, putting their physical, mental and social well-being at risk. This, in turn, has increased the pressure on those with mental health disorders, such as psychosis and depression, and increased demand on psychotropic drugs.  

In response, WHO with the support of the Government of Canada, has delivered essential psychotropic drugs to treat 3,000 people in the Gaza Strip suffering from mental, neurological and substance use disorders for six months. The delivery of these drugs to local health authorities in the Gaza Strip is part of WHOs support to develop mental health services and strengthen the mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Gaza. 

Risk Communications and Community Engagement  ​
Volunteers in Hebron, supported by WHO and the Hebron governorates’ COVID-19 crisis committee (led by Dr Jehad Shawar), mobilized to share information about COVID-19. WHO and UNICEF provided more than 2,000 community engagement kits with fabric masks, bags, shirts, hats and alcogel to partners around the West Bank to support the mobilization of volunteers, with the generous support of the Government of Kuwait.​
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