Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) WHO Situation Report 71

World Health organization oPt

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Report 71

Issued 8 April 2021


  • Infections in the Gaza Strip double again in one week, now accounting for over half of all active cases in the oPt
  • In the West Bank, cases continue to decline slowly, but numbers remain high with many hospitals still at full capacity
  • Tighter restrictions are imposed in both areas, including full movement  restrictions for vehicles in Gaza for three days and banning all outdoor  gatherings.

The New Head of WHO in oPt Dr Richard Peeperkorn Attends Opening of COVID-19 Unit in Ramallah

Minister of Health Dr Mai Al Kaila meets with the new Head of the WHO office in oPt, Dr Richard Peeperkorn, on the occasion of the opening of the COVID-19, 50 bed unit at the Ramallah Complex Hospital. 

The two spoke about the health and epidemiological situation in the oPt and pledged to continue their strategic and collaborative approach to tackling the COVID-19 pandemic and strengthening the health system in Palestine to improve health outcomes for all Palestinians.

WHO preparedness, readiness and response

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

Coordination, planning and monitoring​

  • The PA announced on 3 April that the West Bank lockdown will continue from Sunday 4 April till 3 May, as follows:
  • Restaurants, shops, cafes, businesses, companies and ministries can operate at 30% capacity
  • Pharmacies and bakeries to be able to continue to operate
  • No movement between governorates including the city of Jerusalem, except for medical personnel, essential goods and food
  • Governors will decide the exceptions for the opening of any sectors
  • Fines will be issued for breaches of safety measures
  • On 6 April 2021, in light of the spike of COVID-19 cases in Gaza, local authorities updated their restrictive measures, as follows:
  • All vehicular movement is prohibited starting from Wednesday, 7 April 2021, 9:00pm to Sunday, 11 April 2021, 6:00am
  • Continuing with the nightly curfew from 9:00pm – 6:00am, as imposed on 27 March 2021
  • Closing schools and universities, till further notice
  • Closing wedding halls and weekly open markets
  • Banning all gatherings in parks and open areas, including weddings and funeral houses held in streets
  • Decisive public health measures and strict adherence to hygiene protocols + physical distancing continue to be essential to reduce the spread of COVID-19.


  • The WHO risk assessment remains very high: despite slowly declining numbers of new COVID-19 cases in the West Bank, many hospitals remain at full capacity, with ICU bed occupancy at 100%, and 61 patients on ventilators (8 April)
  • The Gaza Strip now accounts for over half of all active cases in the oPt (50.4%), followed by the West Bank governorates of Nablus (15.5%), Jenin (7%), Hebron (6.8%), Tulkarm (6.1%), Ramallah (4.6%), Qalqilya (2.4%) and Bethlehem (2%)
  • The overall Case Fatality Rate (CFR) across oPt remains at 1.1 %. The CFR is the proportion of deaths among identified confirmed cases
  • On 30 March, health authorities in Gaza confirmed the first cases detected with the new variant B.1.1.7 (first identified in the UK). This variant is known to have been driving recent cases in the West Bank as well.

Maintaining essential health services

New Emergency Medical Teams (EMTs) established in Gaza with the Help of WHO

Two new emergency medical teams will now be able to increase emergency preparedness at five emergency departments in Gaza hospitals.
As part of this package, and with generous funding from the EU Humanitarian Aid (ECHO), WHO donated medical equipment, including oxygen concentrators, medical cots,  medications, supplies and IT equipment.

Laboratory testing and diagnostics  ​
  • The number of tests conducted in the oPt has decreased by 4% during the reporting period (2-8 April), with 57,585 tests conducted
  • In the Gaza Strip, an average of 3,282 tests per day have been conducted over the past week (26 March – 1 April) with a positivity rate of 25%
  • WHO delivered to the health authorities in the Gaza Strip, 26,400 COVID-19 RNA extraction kits that are essential to maintain the COVID-19 testing capacity.

Infection Prevention and Control (IPC), Isolation and Case Management, Operations Support and Logistics 

  • As of 1 April, the overall occupancy rate of COVID-19 dedicated hospital beds in the Gaza Strip is 38%, with 203 of 540 beds occupied. Currently, 34 of the 90 Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds (38%) are occupied, with eight requiring invasive mechanical ventilation
  • The COVID-19 designated hospitals in the West Bank are near their full capacity, with 97% occupancy of hospital beds and 100% occupancy in ICUs. Ventilator usage is at 47%.

COVID-19 Vaccination
Vaccine delivery

Latest vaccine arrivals

  • On 29 March, 100,000 Sinopharm vaccines arrived in West Bank as a donation from China: 90,000 for WB, and 10,000 for Gaza
  • On 30 March a further 25,000 AstraZeneca vaccines were also delivered to oPt from the Serum Institute of India, the first batch of purchased vaccines out of a total of 2 million: 20,000 for WB, and 5,000 for Gaza

COVID-19 vaccination status

  • On 21 March Palestine kick-started its mass vaccination rollout campaign prioritizing medical staff at government and private hospitals, patients with kidney and cancer conditions, and the elderly
  • 131,394 people have been vaccinated in total across the oPt (as of 8 April): 100,487 in the West Bank, and 30,907 in Gaza. These figures represent around 2.5% of the total Palestinian population
  • Israel has now embarked on its ‘second phase’ of vaccinating over 100,000 Palestinian workers who received their first doses on 7 March (Source COGAT FB)

Future COVAX consignments (estimates)

  • A further 144,000 doses of AstraZeneca (AZ) vaccines are due to arrive through COVAX in batches by end of April, bringing the total number of AZ vaccines arriving in oPt through COVAX to 168,000
  • An additional 102,960 doses of Pfizer vaccines have also been allocated to the oPt through the COVAX mechanism, with expected delivery date end of Q2, up to 8 weeks after signing the PO


What is WHO’s position on the safety of the Astra-Zeneca COVID-19 vaccine?   

On 7 April 2021, the WHO’s Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety (GAVCS), the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the UK’s regulator (MHRA) issued statements. All concluded that the benefits of taking the AZ vaccine outweigh the very rare potential risks. WHO advises countries should continue to vaccinate with the AZ vaccine, which has saved millions of lives and prevented serious illness.

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