Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) WHO Update 8

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) Update 8

occupied Palestinian territory, March 13, 2020

Cases reported in oPt: 35*

  • West Bank: 35
  • Gaza: 0

WHO Risk Assessment:

  • oPt: Very High
  • Regional: Very High
  • Global Level: Very High

*Information from Palestinian Authority Ministry of Health on March 13 at 11:00 (GMT + 2)

Situation in occupied Palestinian Territory (oPt):
  • The risk to the oPt remains very high
  • On 13 March 2020, as of 11:00 am, the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Health (MoH) confirmed to WHO a total of 35 cases of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) in the West Bank. No cases have been reported in Gaza
  • A total of 6 new confirmed cases were reported on 09 March, 5 new confirmed cases were reported on 11 March, and 1 new confirmed case was reported on 12 March 2020 and 4 new on 13 March 2020. In addition to the 19 already confirmed cases, this brings the total to 35.
  • All cases except one (in Tulkarm) are from Bethlehem
  • COVID-19 cases reported from Bethlehem have developed no symptoms so far. Fourteen cases are in a designated health facility in Bethlehem (a converted drug rehabilitation centre) and the others remain quarantined in a hotel. A preventive medicine doctor is available on site to ensure adequate case management procedures. Infection prevention and control protocols were implemented as per WHO guidelines. Investigations and contact tracing continue. The Tulkarm patient is asymptomatic and quarantined at home
  • In Gaza, citizens are unable to travel except for urgent humanitarian reasons. Those coming from crossings Rafah or Erez will be quarantined either at their homes or at the quarantine area in Rafah. Schools will be closed till the end of March and the decision will be reviewed weekly by authorities.
  • Led by the UN Resident Coordinator, WHO has held donor briefings and several donors have stepped in and pledged additional resources to support the government’s efforts and to address identified medical supply and equipment gaps
  • It is important to mobilise the community to combat rumours and misinformation. WHO and UNICEF are jointly leading a risk communications strategy and are working with a new communications taskforce with the MOH and private sector to tackle misinformation and share public information
  • WHO urges the public to obtain the latest information on COVID-19 from key sources such as MoH and WHO (see TwitterFacebook and oPt website), and follow and promote the recommended basic preventive and protective measures

*Information provided by Palestinian Authority Ministry of Health on March 13 at 10:00 (GMT + 2)

Announcement of a Pandemic​

  • On 11 March, WHO announced that the outbreak of COVID-19 ‘can be characterized a pandemic’. This is the first pandemic caused by a coronavirus. WHO is deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction by countries to contain it
  •  In the past two weeks, the number of cases of COVID-19 outside China has increased 13-fold, and the number of affected countries has tripled.  The number of cases, deaths, and affected countries is expected to increase in the coming days and weeks
  • Describing the situation as a pandemic does not change WHO’s assessment of the threat posed by this virus. All countries can still change the course of this pandemic. Several countries have demonstrated that this virus can be suppressed and controlled. By describing this as a pandemic, it does not change WHO’s advice, or what countries and individuals should be doing. What it does do is provide a stark reminder for implementing immediately needed actions.
Delivering essential medical supplies

WHO is continuing to support the Ministry of Health’s (MoH) efforts to respond to the COVID-19 situation in oPt, including delivering essential medical supplies. Swabs for testing were delivered to MoH in Ramallah on 13 March 2020, with more supplies currently being procured.

Response in oPt:

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

  • WHO coordinates the preparation of an inter-agency COVID-19 response plan for the oPt with a list of priority actions for the next three months. A meeting of operational Health Cluster partners took place on 11 March to finalise the plan
  • PPE kits were mobilized and provided to the MoH and health partners by WHO in the West Bank and Gaza and swabs were delivered for testing at MOH

The MOH have been accelerating their preparedness and 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
  • preparedness is also progressing in Gaza but there are substantial capacity gaps to be addressed

Preparedness has also been progressing in the Gaza Strip

  • The national COVID19 committee will meet tomorrow to discuss further measures and the progress of establishing a field Hospital at Rafah. A medical check point will be established at Erez
  • Health authorities are establishing the Rafah Field Hospital at the (closed) Rafah Crossing featuring a 36-bed hospital with 6 intensive care unit beds and 30 for moderate cases setup beside the quarantine areas of the Rafah Crossing.  The quarantine area includes 50 rooms for quarantined travellers.
  • Substantial capacity gaps still need to be addressed including the procurement of essential medical supplies and equipment, in addition to the chronic shortage of drugs and disposables already

Situation in Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMRO):

  • Click on the EMRO dashboard on the right for the latest updates
  • Israel has 75 cases confirmed (as of 13 March 2020, 06:00 CET) .

Managing risk of COVID-19 infection:

What is the risk to individuals?

  • Recent research shows that most people infected with COVID-19 show mild illness, however, some people, in  particular older people, and those with pre-existing medical conditions (such as cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease or diabetes) are at risk for severe disease.

What action should I take?

  • If you are not in an area where COVID-19 is spreading, or have not travelled from an area where COVID-19 is spreading, or have not been in contact with an infected patient, your risk of infection is low.
  • It is understandable that you may feel anxious about the outbreak.
  • It’s a good idea to get the facts from reliable sources to help you accurately determine your risks so that you can take reasonable precautions
  • It is important to be informed of the situation and take appropriate measures to protect yourself and your family
  •  If you are in an area where there are cases of COVID-19 you need to take the risk of infection seriously. Follow the advice of WHO and guidance issued by national and local health authorities.

Protective measures:

It is important to take measures to protect yourself and your family.
Very effective protective measures people can take include:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub
  • Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing
  • Avoid unprotected close contact with anyone developing cold or flu-like symptoms and seek medical care if you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing
  • When visiting live markets, avoid direct unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces in contact with animals
  • Cook your food and especially meat thoroughly.

Inform yourself:

  • It is important to keep informed and updates of the situation.
  • Check the latest information on COVID-19 from key sources such as MoH, national authorities and WHO (see TwitterFacebook and oPt website), and follow and promote the recommended basic preventive and protective measures.
  • For the region, regular case updates for the Eastern Mediterranean Region are provided by the EMRO dashboard on the WHO global  dashboard for Israel.


2020-04-23T15:45:19-04:00

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