Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Report 50

occupied Palestinian territory, issued 29 October 2020
Information for period: 5 March – 29 October 2020

Highlights
  • Health Authorities in the Gaza Strip are reporting critical shortages of laboratory supplies for COVID-19 testing
  • WHO continues to deliver vital medical training, equipment and supplies across the oPt to support the COVID-19 response
This week 50 ventilators donated by the Government of Germany were handed over to the MoH in Ramallah to support its readiness for the COVID-19 response. 

WHO coordinated the entry of the state-of-the-art machines to help to increase the capacity of the Palestinian health system significantly and equip additional COVID-19 wards for critical patients in need of mechanical ventilation. “We all hope that the spread of the Coronavirus will be contained, and those ventilators will never be needed to treat COVID-19 patients”, said Michael Herold, Deputy Head of the German Representative Office. “But if need be, they can save lives and will also in the future represent a substantial improvement in treatment capacities in Palestine.”
Fifteen of the ventilators will be used at the European Gaza Hospital. 

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.

 Coordination, planning and monitoring ​
  • In the Gaza Strip, local authorities have eased some restrictions except for hotspot areas reporting increased numbers of positive cases, including Bait Hanoun, Bureij Camp, and Sheikh Radwan area. This included partial opening of mosques and local markets and transitioning to the second phase of resuming regular school attendance
  • On 25 October, attendance at higher education facilities, such as colleges and universities, was partially resumed. On 26 October, approximately 125,000 students from grade 7 – 11 returned to school under strict precautionary measures
  • A night curfew is still in place across all the five governorates from 20:00 to 07:00.

Surveillance  

  • The WHO risk assessment remains very high
  • From 1- 29 October, the total number of COVID-19 cases rose by 13,696 cases (on average 472 cases per day). Five hundred and forty-five have died, with an overall case fatality rate (CFR) of 0.85%
  • Gaza still accounts for most of the active cases in the oPt. In the West Bank, Nablus governorate now has the second highest number of active rates, followed by Bethlehem, Hebron and Tulkarm. Meanwhile, cases have dropped significantly in East Jerusalem.
Laboratory diagnostics  ​
  • A total of 482,531 laboratory samples have been tested for COVID-19 according to MoH.
As the number of COVID-19 cases increases in the Gaza Strip this week and health authorities report critical shortages of lab testing supplies and kits, WHO has delivered 50 COVID-19 testing kits for 4,800 tests and scaled-up testing capacity.  This delivery was made possible thanks to support from the Government of Germany.
WHO delivered one automated RNA extraction machine which reduces the time required for the COVID-19 testing by almost half compared to the manual RNA extractor. 10 RNA extraction kits to conduct up to 20,000 COVID-19 tests were delivered to help sustain testing and control the spread of the virus.
Infection Prevention and Control (IPC), Isolation and Case Management, Operations Support and Logistics 
  • 14,925 Palestinians are in quarantine (home or facility-based) to prevent further spread of the disease
  • In the Gaza Strip, 104 people are in one of three quarantine facilities, which include health facilities and hotels
  • 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)
  • Capacity building activities continue, targeting health workers in the Gaza Strip. A second group of 40 nurses have started training on intensive care management of COVID-19 patients, funded by the Government of Canada; the fifth group of 17 maternal and child health workers have also completed infection prevention training, conducted by the Palestinian National Institute of Public Health (PNIPH)/WHO.
Access to essential health services   

Palestinian patients continue to face substantial barriers to accessing essential healthcare in September:

  • Permit applications for Gaza patients have reduced by some 90%, compared to pre-COVID-19 levels
  • West Bank referrals have returned to pre-COVID-19 levels
  • Nearly a third (29%) of Gaza patients were not approved permits to reach healthcare
  • Three patients were called for security interrogation and one patient was arrested and detained, and returned to Gaza after almost a month without receiving chemotherapy and radiotherapy for colorectal cancer
  • More information in WHO’s latest monthly access report.
Sustaining Essential Health Services
PNIPH and WHO delivered a spectrophotometer device to local health authorities in the Gaza Strip. The device is essential to support the core functions of the Public Health Laboratory in testing the quality of medications and other medical formulas before they can be administered in public health facilities. Thanks to the Government of Norway.
Risk Communications and Community Engagement  ​

Volunteers from the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS), kitted out in WHO Community engagement kits including hats, bags and t-shirts, spent two days sharing information about COVID-19 in Hebron’s old city

and PRCS Hospital this month.   

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