While the coronavirus continues to spread rapidly in Europe, the Middle East registered its first cases in early March. As of today, 59 cases of the novel coronavirus were recorded in the occupied Palestinian territory (Gaza Strip and West Bank, including East Jerusalem). As it already reached more than 1,500 cases in Israel and around 300 cases in Lebanon, the Palestinian Authority enforced a high-scale lockdown in the West Bank. Gaza’s borders are also closed by its neighbor, trying to prevent the virus from entering the Strip, in vain. In the past weeks, two cases were found in Gaza (Rafah Governorate), as authorities are trying to organize a coordinated response.
How are the authorities responding?
The Palestinian Authority (PA) decided the closure of all governorates in the West Bank. A curfew was announced two days ago (22nd March) and all non-essential services and shops were ordered to close. In addition, the checkpoints between West Bank and Israel are under strong surveillance as almost all movements are forbidden. The containment strategy is vital as the health services and sanitation structures will face difficulties absorbing a large-scale outbreak. ACTED Positioning to Address the Novel Coronavirus Outbreak in the oPT
In the framework of this crisis, ACTED quickly triggered several mechanisms to support the health clinics identified as quarantine centers.
ACTED implemented an emergency preparedness project, funded by UNOCHA (Humanitarian Fund). Through this action, ACTED stockpiled more than 6,000 emergency kits in several warehouses in Rafah Governorate. The project aimed at increasing communities’ preparedness in the eventuality of an escalation of violence or a natural hazard. In response to the outbreak of CoViD-19 in Gaza, ACTED coordinated with the Ministry of Social Development, in equipping 10 quarantine facilities in Rafah Governorates. In total, 300 mattresses, 300 mats, 600 blankets, 300 hygiene kits and 100 cleaning kits were provided.
ACTED also manages a warehouses with Emergency Shelter items ready to be used and delivered in the context of the CoViD-19 emergency response. In the periphery of Hebron, ACTED provided the HWC (Health Work Committees) Medical Center in Halhul with tent gear for setting up a pre-screening area prior entering the hospital.
ACTED will also equip three schools as the quarantine facilities dedicated to those workers who are no longer able to work in Israel.
ACTED is closely monitoring the situation and coordinating with the relevant authorities and humanitarian actors. ACTED’s first priority is to ensure the beneficiaries’ security and safety. A comprehensive Standard of Operation was consolidated in order to ensure beneficiaries’ protection from the outbreak while ACTED team are deployed in the field.