Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) WHO Update 40

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Report 40

occupied Palestinian territory, issued 13 August 2020
Information for period: 5 March – 13 August 2020


  • Number of people testing positive for COVID-19 continues to increase in the West Bank
  • The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 has surpassed 20,000 in the occupied Palestinian territory
  • The Palestinian Authority has further eased restrictions, in accordance with strict health measures
  • WHO delivered a new PCR machine to Gaza to enable rapid testing for COVID-19

WHO delivered a new PCR (GeneXpert) machine to local health authorities in the Gaza Strip which will dramatically reduce the time it takes to conduct tests for COVID-19. This machine can provide tests results within 45 minutes, compared to the four hours it takes using one of Gaza’s other four PCR machines. The delivery was made possible thanks to the oPt Humanitarian Fund. 

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 situation.

Below is an infographic highlighting WHO’s Key Performance Indicators since the COVID-19 response began:

Coordination, planning and monitoring

  • In the West Bank, OCHA’s Inter-Cluster Coordination Group (ICCG) led two needs assessment missions of governmental isolation centres on 10 August. The first mission visited two isolation centres in Nablus and one centre in Jenin while the second visited two centres in Jericho and Nweima in the Jordan valley
  • In the Gaza Strip, representatives from WHO and the ICCG participated in an assessment visit to the newly-constructed quarantine in Deir Al Balah in the middle governorate. The visit was organized by OCHA to assess the progress of work at the quarantine centre and identify ways of supporting the centre to accommodate Palestinians returning to Gaza
  • Through the activation of the logistics cluster by the humanitarian coordinator, most of the humanitarian shipments pending clearance have been processed; a mechanism for the coordination of access for medical referral patients from Gaza to essential services outside has been agreed, following the suspension of bilateral agreements and coordination in response to Israel’s threatened annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank. The final operationalization of the agreed third-party facilitation through WHO still requires some further follow-up by authorities to put the necessary arrangements in place.

The Palestinian Authority decided on 12 August to cautiously lift some restrictions. In accordance with strict health measures, it was decided to implement the following measures:

  • Allow Friday prayers to be held in public and open squares, while taking all preventive measures in spacing, wearing masks and bringing carpets for the worshipers
  • Allow the opening of shops and various other economic activities on Fridays and Saturdays, while strictly adhering to the public safety measures set by the Ministry of Health protocols
  • Continue to close wedding halls and mourning homes and prohibit all forms of gathering that constitute an environment which could encourage the spread of the virus
  • Tighten control over compliance with public safety measures, placing the capabilities of all directorates and their employees in various governorates under the governors ’command, to form monitoring teams alongside the security forces, to ensure that owners of commercial and industrial establishments and public transport abide by the preventive measures and punishments stipulated by law
  • Continue to close affected areas in villages, camps and neighbourhoods within cities.
  • The WHO risk assessment remains very high for the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt)
  • The number of people testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 continues to rise
  • The total number of cases is 20,525 including 20,444 cases in the West Bank and 81 in the Gaza Strip
  • Since 1 August (to 13 August as of 14:00) the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) has averaged 406 cases per day, with 5,287 new cases and 30 fatalities
  • Most cases recorded are from Hebron (9,747), East Jerusalem (5,034), Jerusalem (1,585), Ramallah (1,220), Bethlehem (919), Nablus (657), Qalqilya (310), Jenin (209) and Tulkarm (202). Only two governorates (Salfit and Tubas) continue to record low case numbers. A total of 270 health workers are among those confirmed cases
  • 21 patients are in a serious condition (ICU), with four requiring mechanical ventilation (as of 12 August, 14:00)
  • To-date, the Ministry of Health (MoH) reported a total of 12,536 cases have recovered: 12,466 in the West Bank (including 3,350 in East Jerusalem) and 70 in Gaza. One hundred and fifteen people have died, with an overall case fatality rate (CFR) of 0.57%
  • Less than half (45.8%) of all confirmed cases are male (7,099 cases) and about 56,7% of all cases (11,641 cases) are below the age of 50 years in the oPt, excluding East Jerusalem
  • The Egypt-Gaza Rafah Border has opened for three days, from 10-13 August. More than 1,000 returnees have already entered the Gaza Strip in the first two days, all of them were directed to designated facilities where they will complete a compulsory period of 21 days of quarantine.
Laboratory diagnostics
  • A total of 224,592 laboratory samples have been tested for COVID-19 according to the MoH, with 14,478 samples tested in the Gaza Strip
  • WHO delivered a new PCR machine to local health authorities in Gaza to help carrying out rapid tests for COVID-19 suspected cases and rapid contact tracing purposes (see image). The machine has been procured with the support of oPt Humanitarian Fund.
Infection Prevention and Control (IPC), Isolation and Case Management, Operations Support and Logistics 
WHO procured and delivered 500,000 medical masks, 250,000 gloves and 3,750 Gowns to UNRWA to help protect front line health staff and medical teams from COVID-19 and to support infection prevention and control efforts. Thanks to the generous support of the Government of Kuwait.
  • 15,110 Palestinians are in quarantine (home or facility-based) to prevent further spread of the disease
  • In the Gaza Strip, 1,446 people are in one of 12 quarantine facilities which include health facilities, hotels or other designated buildings
  • WHO procured and delivered a shipment to UNRWA (pictured). These essential Personal Protective Equipment items will help to protect UNRWA frontline health staff and medical teams in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and will support infection prevention and control efforts. Thanks to the generous support of the Government of Kuwait
  • WHO supported the training of 17 MoH maternity staff on infection prevention and control measures, including donning and doffing personal protective equipment and waste management.

The WHO and Palestinian National Institute of Public Health (PNIPH) have delivered three pallets of essential medications for mother and child health as well as laboratory reagents, and testing supplies to the local health authorities in the Gaza Strip.

This delivery will help cover shortages in medications needed to improve the health of pregnant women, and the laboratory supplies will support the ongoing emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The delivery was kindly supported by the Government of Norway.

Risk Communications and Community Engagement (RCCE)

Pictured are social media cards used as part of the RCCE campaign to promote protecting the elderly during COVID-19 (left) and advice to avoid substance abuse (right).  

  • RCCE continues in response to the surge in COVID-19 cases in the West Bank
  • WHO, UNICEF, the MoH and partners are focusing communication efforts with municipalities, media and NGOs around all areas with clusters of cases (Hebron, East Jerusalem, Ramallah, Bethlehem, and Nablus) to disseminate public health messages to help control the spread of COVID-19
  • Latest key messages (12 –25 August) focus on advice for people who are: experiencing domestic violence, feeling stressed and angry, going back to school, responsible for protecting the elderly,and those abusing substances. Click here to access the social media  cards, videos and messages
  • A new 13-part COVID-19 radio series supported by RCCE is being broadcast on Ajyal radio network every Thursday online and via 22 Palestinian stations – frequencies are here), starting from Thursday July 30th. First two episodes are available her: Episode 1 and Episode 2
More local information


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