Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) Update 17

1 April 2020, (epidemiological wk 5), occupied Palestinian territory

*Information for the period 5 March – 1 April from the Ministry of Health

Situation in occupied Palestinian Territory (oPt)

  • On 31 March 2020, the Ministry of Health (MoH) confirmed 1 new COVID-19 case in the West Bank and 3 in Gaza, on 1 April an additional 15 new cases were confirmed in the West Bank, the most cases confirmed in a single day since the beginning of the outbreak
  • The total number of cases in all oPt is 134, including 122 cases in West Bank and 12 in Gaza
  • To-date, the MoH has reported a total of 18 cases have recovered and one person had died
  •  Most cases do not present clinical symptoms and none are critical. All new cases are under medical observation at designated health facilities. Contact tracing was initiated for all case
  • In the West Bank, the MoH has made taken further measures to strengthen its response including designating 10 health facilities with capacity for 300 beds, including 50 intensive care beds and three further hospitals have been designated for extra capacity if needed.  Additional discussions are ongoing to secure beds at three private hospitals
  • In the Gaza Strip, the local health authorities have expanded the laboratory testing to include hundreds of samples from those placed in quarantine and contacts of COVID-19 patients in quarantine centers since the beginning of March 2020
  • More than 1804 people are in one of 27 designated quarantine facilities including at Rafah crossing quarantine centre or at health facilities, schools or hotels designated as quarantine facilities. The quarantine period will be extended from two to three weeks (21 days). Those coming from crossings at Rafah or Erez have been quarantined since March 15. Home quarantine ended 26 March for those who entered Gaza 14 days prior
  • The UN Humanitarian Coordinator has released US$ 1 million from the humanitarian pooled fund to address immediate priority needs and WHO and partners are working with the donor community to mobilize further resources to support the government’s efforts and to address identified priority COVID-19 response actions to support containment and to address immediate health system gaps
  • An amount of US $500,000 of UK AID has been re-allocated to directly support the COVID-19 response
  •  WHO urges the public to obtain the latest information on COVID-19 from key sources such as MoH (dashboard) and WHO (see TwitterFacebook and oPt website), and follow and promote the recommended basic preventive and protective measures.
Response in oPt:

On 26 March 2020, the Palestinian Authority released the National COVID-19 Response Plan that outlined the strategic measures from a number of key sectors, including health, economy and social protection to contain the outbreak. The amount of $120 million planned by the PA for a period of 90 days is needed to support the proposed measures

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

On 27 March 2020, the humanitarian clusters under the leadership of Humanitarian Coordinator and with support from WHO have released an updated inter-agency multi-sectoral COVID-19 response plan totaling $34 million for a period of 90 days. The plan aligns the collective efforts of the UN and its partners to support the Palestinian Authority’s lead National Response Plan to manage the impact of COVID-19 as well as with the global UN appeal issued by the UN Secretary General on 25 March 2020.

The health response part of the oPt inter-agency plan asks for $19.5 million to support immediate priority COVID-19 response actions developed by partners to support containment and to address immediate health system gaps in laboratory testing, case management and infection prevention and control.

To support the COVID-19 response in the West Bank and Gaza, since the beginning of the response WHO has delivered:

  • COVID-19 testing kits to conduct an estimated 5,760 tests alongside with swabs for collection of samples and other laboratory supplies required for COVID-19 testing
  • Personal Protective Equipment and hand sanitizers to protect an estimated 2,000 health workers
  • Infrastructure supplies for isolation facilities in Jericho
  • More than 100,000 brochures and posters to the public with practical advice on how to prevent COVID-19
  • In addition WHO is purchasing 25 types of medical disposable items and medical equipment for intensive care units to be used in health facilities designated to treat COVID-19 patients in the Gaza Strip
  • WHO provided support in transporting 1,500 sample collection swabs procured by the Ministry of Health from the West Bank to Gaza.

WHO has completed an assessment of the Gaza European Hospital which is designated by the health authorities as a treatment centre for COVID-19. Results of the assessment will be used to develop a plan to scale-up hospital’s capacity for COVID-19 case management.

The MOH have implemented effective measures to ensure early detection and case management of any suspected COVID-19 case and so far have ensured that:

  • In the West Bank, quarantine and treatment facilities and emergency committees are being established in key governorates
  • the Ministry of Health has developed a new COVID-19 dashboard (in Arabic) to track cases: https://www.corona.ps/
  • A central operations room has been established at Prime Minister’s office to coordinate activities, including contacts with media
  • laboratory capacities of the MoH in Ramallah have been scaled up
  • Point of entry checks for incoming travelers are being conducted and isolation wards in health facilities have been established
  • health workers are equipped and trained in the appropriate infection prevention and control measures and case management of potential COVID-19 case across the oPt
  • the general public continues to be regularly updated, including advice on how to protect themselves.

The response is ongoing in the Gaza Strip but there are substantial capacity gaps to be addressed including the procurement of essential medical supplies and equipment (such as lab testing kits)

On 25 March, in Gaza WHO supported the training of 50 MoH personnel from preventive medicine and infection prevention and control departments on case management, infection prevention and control measures, and rational use of personal protective equipment at Shifa Hospital.