• Active cases decline in the West Bank, but rise again in the Gaza Strip.
• Israeli public health measures temporarily limit the entry of international NGO staff.
• Preparations for a national vaccination plan continue.
The reporting period witnessed a continuing rise in COVID-19 cases in the oPt, with 23,000 additional Palestinians testing positive, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health (MoH). The cumulative number of cases has now exceeded 150,000, with 130,000 recovered. However, the number of active cases declined by about 13 per cent (from 25,068 to 21,835), due to a drop in the West Bank; active cases rose again in the Gaza Strip. After a surge in the last reporting period, there has been a slight decline in the number of patients in intensive care units (ICU), from 137 to 127, including those requiring mechanical ventilation, from 39 to 30 A total of 344 people died, bringing to 1,500 the cumulative number of fatalities due to the virus, 1,144 in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and 356 in the Gaza Strip. The Case Fatality Rate (CFR), the proportion of deaths among confirmed cases, stands at approximately one per cent in the oPt, slightly above Israel (0.8), but lower than Jordan (1.3 per cent), and Egypt (5.6 per cent).
Gaza accounts for 46 per cent of all active cases in the oPt, followed in the West Bank by the Nablus (13.7 per cent) and Ramallah (7.5 per cent) governorates, and the East Jerusalem area (7.3 per cent).
Public health restrictions continue in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as detailed below. Due to a surge in cases, Israel has implemented a third national lockdown, beginning on 27 December, which also applies to East Jerusalem, and includes increased restrictions on movement, workplaces and commercial activity. Officials have indicated that the lockdown may be extended beyond the initial two weeks. The new public health measures are temporarily limiting the entry of international NGO staff into Israel, while UN international staff are not affected. Discussions with the Israeli authorities on this matter authorities are ongoing.
The PA has submitted an application to receive financial support from the global risk-sharing mechanism for the pooled procurement and equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines (the Gavi COVAX AMC Facility). More details are available at the COVAX Facility website.
The MoH, with support from partners, is proceeding with the development of the COVID-19 National Deployment and Vaccination Plan to outline costed strategies for the deployment, implementation and monitoring of vaccination in the oPt. With the support of UNICEF, WHO and UNRWA, work continues to finalize an assessment of the cold chain capacity for COVID-19 vaccination and to prepare an application to support the upgrade of the cold chain system. In the meantime, the Palestinian authorities have emphasised the need to begin vaccination of the highest priority groups, in particular health workers, for which currently there is no provision.
Israel has already started to roll out is vaccination programme and currently ranks first globally for per capita vaccinations. A number of Israeli, Palestinian and international health and human rights organizations have called on the Israeli authorities to live up to their legal obligations and ensure that quality vaccines are also provided to Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.