- New COVID-19 infections in the Gaza Strip continue to decline slowly, but deaths are at record highs, and with a drop in testing – uncertainty prevails
- In the West Bank, cases also continue to subside, but hospitals remain near full capacity with over 90% of ICU beds occupied
- COVAX delivers another 72,000 AstraZeneca vaccines to the oPt: 43,200 doses go to the Nablus cold store in West Bank, while 28,800 go to Gaza Strip.
Key Performance Indicators for COVID-19 Response in oPt
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, with restaurants, shops, cafes, businesses, companies and ministries operating at 30% capacity
- In the Gaza Strip, local authorities updated their restrictive measures to include prohibiting vehicular movement on weekends (Fridays and Saturdays) and imposing a nightly curfew from sunset (~7:00pm) to dawn (~04:30am) on weekdays
- Decisive public health measures and strict adherence to hygiene protocols and physical distancing continue to be essential to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
- The WHO risk assessment remains very high: COVID-19 infections in the Gaza Strip account for two-thirds of all cases in the oPt, with some signs of reaching a plateau but the situation remains critical; in the West Bank, a similar story, with new infections declining slowly, but hospitals still struggling
- The breakdown of active COVID-19 cases across the oPt is as follows: Gaza Strip (66.4%), followed by the West Bank governorates of Nablus (12.8%), Jenin (3.3%), Tulkarm (4.9%), Ramallah (3.5%), Hebron (2.7%), Qalqilya (1.4%) and Bethlehem and Tubas both (1.0%)
- The overall Case Fatality Rate (CFR) across oPt remains at 1.1 %. The CFR is the proportion of deaths among identified confirmed cases
- A new B1.351 variant which was initially detected in S. Africa has recently been identified in the West Bank. This is in addition to the virulent B.1.1.7 variant (first identified in the UK) which has been driving cases in both West Bank and Gaza.
Laboratory testing and diagnostics
- The number of tests conducted in the oPt has decreased by 17% during the reporting period (16 – 22 April), with 37,529 tests conducted
- In the Gaza Strip, an average of 3,174 tests per day have been conducted over the past week (16 – 22 April) with a positivity rate of 36%.
Infection Prevention and Control (IPC), Isolation and Case Management, Operations Support and Logistics
- In the Gaza Strip, health authorities have increased COVID-19 bed capacity to 587 beds, at Turkish and European Gaza Hospitals, in addition to four other public hospitals (Shifa, Nasser, Indonesian, and Al-Aqsa)
- As of 22 April, the overall occupancy rate of COVID-19 dedicated hospital beds in the Gaza Strip is 66%, with 387 of 587 beds occupied. As of 21 April, 54 of the 77 Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds were occupied (70%), with 11 patients requiring invasive mechanical ventilation
- The COVID-19 designated hospitals in the West Bank are still struggling near full capacity, with 91% occupancy in ICUs, and ventilator usage at 30%
- On 19 April, WHO received shipments of reagents distributed by the Infectious Hazards Program (IHP) in Cairo: five sets containing 200 PCR detection kits for COVID-19 and also for influenza were delivered to the PA MoH.
Maintaining Essential Health Services
WHO supports ambulance systems and training throughout Gaza
WHO is supporting local health authorities in Gaza establish an operational room for ambulance management, with IT equipment and uniforms for staff including special visibility vests, scrubs and shoes.
– With thanks to generous help from EU Humanitarian AID
WHO is also supporting the Palestine Red Crescent Society to strengthen the ambulance system across Gaza. A unified ambulance dispatch centre with upgraded IT services will be established.
– With thanks to the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) for their generous donation
- East Jerusalem has witnessed a significant improvement in the epidemiological situation, with just 46 cases of COVID-19 reported during the last four days. St. Joseph hospital, the main COVID-19 hospital in EJ closed its two coronavirus-dedicated units (50-bed capacity) on 19 April 2021 due to decreased numbers of patients. As of 21 April, there are only six patients in Al Makased hospital (4 of them on ICU) and three patients in Augusta Victoria hospital. In all, 282 people have died in the city since the start of the pandemic last year
- The latest vaccination data for residents of EJ show that 153,000 people have received their first dose of whom 130,000 have received a second dose.
COVID-19 Vaccination Update
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 yet to be delivered to Gaza
- On 30 March a further 25,000 AstraZeneca (AZ) vaccines were also delivered to oPt from the Serum Institute of India
- On 13 April, 48,000 doses of AZ vaccines purchased bilaterally by the PA MoH arrived in the oPt, of which 10,000 doses will be delivered to Gaza
- On 17 April, an additional 72,000 doses of AZ vaccines arrived in the oPt through the COVAX facility: 43,200 doses were delivered to the West Bank on 19 April, while Gaza got 28,800 doses
- PA Health Minister Mai Alkaila stated on Voice of Palestine radio (20 April) that the OPt has bought 4.5 million doses of the Pfizer and Sputnik V coronavirus vaccines at a cost of $27.5 million. Alkaila said the vaccines will arrive ‘soon’.
- As of 22 April, 167,711 people have been vaccinated in total across the oPt: 132,621 in the West Bank, and 35,090 in Gaza. These figures represent around 3.4% of the total Palestinian population
- Israel completed on 21 April its ‘second phase’ of vaccinating over 100,000 Palestinian workers who received their first doses on 7 March (COGAT.Arabic FB)
- The PA MoH has established a committee to oversee the prioritisation of the COVID-19 vaccination with members drawn from health professionals, academia, UN agencies and civil society organisations.
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