oPt

Occupied Palestinian Territory (oPt): COVID-19 Emergency Situation Report 18 (9 - 22 September 2020)

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Highlights

  • The number of active COVID-19 cases in the oPt rose by 14 per cent and 99 more people died.

  • 1,200 more cases of community transmission and another 11 fatalities reported in Gaza.

  • In Israel, the authorities have imposed a three-week general lockdown, which also includes annexed East Jerusalem.

  • The Inter-Agency Response Plan for the oPt is 46 per cent funded.

SITUATION OVERVIEW

During the reporting period, over 10,000 additional Palestinians in the oPt tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the cumulative number of cases since the start of the crisis to some 46,600. The currently active cases increased by some 14 per cent, from 11,100 to 12,700. Ninety-nine more people died during the reporting period, bringing to 314 the cumulative number of fatalities with the virus, 297 in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and 17 in the Gaza Strip. Thirty-four patients are in intensive care units (ICU), eight of whom require mechanical ventilation. Conflicting trends have been observed during the reporting period across the various governorates. The Hebron district, which has been the epicentre of the pandemic, recorded a 46 per cent decline in active cases. This may be partially attributable to a decline in the number of tests performed in that area, following inconsistencies in the testing policy by the Ministry of Health (MoH), alongside an increasing tendency, particularly among the asymptomatic, to avoid testing due to the social stigma associated with infection. By contrast, the number of active cases in East Jerusalem and in the Nablus governorate doubled, while in Ramallah it increase by nearly 50 per cent. In the Gaza Strip too, the volume of active cases has increased by over 50 per cent during the reporting period, nearly all due to the continuing community transmission, raising concern due to the longstanding fragility of Gaza’s health system. The lockdown imposed in the last week of August, following the detection of the first infection cases outside quarantine centres, has been selectively eased in less affected areas, amid a strict enforcement of precautionary measures, such as social distancing and mask wearing.

In the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has announced that in the coming days a differential scheme of restrictions will enter into force, based on the assignation of a colour (red, yellow or green) to each governorate, indicating their respective rate of infection and a corresponding level of restrictive measures.

In Israel, the authorities have imposed a general lockdown, applicable also to annexed East Jerusalem, starting on 18 September for an extendable three-week period. Most schools and shops are closed, as well as commercial centres, restaurants and indoor sports venues. Activities that do not involve interaction with the public, including the construction and agriculture sectors, which both employ large numbers of West Bank Palestinians, continue to operate with some restrictions.

A public opinion survey carried out between 9 and 12 September across the oPt indicates continuing high levels of satisfaction with the performance of the various Palestinian authorities in managing the pandemic, with 68 per cent approving the performance of the security forces and 57 per cent that of their respective governors. However, 55 per cent said that they are dissatisfied with the PA’s decision to halt coordination with Israel in the health sector, specifically in areas related to the pandemic. Over 60 per cent reported that they have stopped earning an income since the start of the crisis.

West Bank

With around 1,900 active cases each, East Jerusalem and the Ramallah governorate account together for about 35 per cent of the West Bank caseload, followed by the Hebron governorate with less than 1,800 (16 per cent) and the rest of the Jerusalem governorate with some 1,100 cases (10 per cent) .

Heightened mobility restrictions were imposed during the reporting period on several localities across the Ramallah, Tulkarm and Jenin governorates for a few days, after recording a rapid increase in the volume of cases. The Palestinian Prime Minister has reportedly instructed the police to intensify enforcement of current measures across the West Bank, including higher penalties for violations.

All active cases not requiring medical treatment are being referred to home quarantine. However, in preparation for a major upsurge in infection, 13 facilities across the West Bank have been placed on stand-by to receive people who tested positive but do not have suitable conditions for home isolation; ten of these isolation centres are supported by UNRWA to serve residents of refugee camps, primarily. East Jerusalem is the only area where an isolation centre has been already activated, at the Seven Arches Hotel, which is hosting 80 people. Most hospitals across the West Bank, including in East Jerusalem, have opened dedicated wards to treat people suffering from more serious symptoms.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.