Gazan health authorities confirmed the first coronavirus disease (COVID-19)-related death in the enclave on Saturday, May 23. According to the health ministry, the victim was a 77-year-old who died while in isolation at a Rafah Crossing hospital. Media reports have indicated that there has been a recent wave of COVID-19 infections in Gaza as hundreds of residents have been allowed to return to the besieged territory from Egypt, where the virus is more prevalent.
On Tuesday, May 19, Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh announced a temporary ban on all public movement during the Eid al-Fitr holiday, which will be observed between Friday, May 22, and Monday, May 25. The directive applies to areas in the West Bank under PA control. Furthermore, all public, commercial, industrial, and private facilities will be closed during this period. An increase in Palestinian Security Forces (PSF) checkpoints has been announced, and disruptions to travel are to be expected.
On Monday, May 4, PA President Mahmoud Abbas extended a state of emergency in the West Bank aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 until June 5. Previous restrictions, such as a ban on nonessential travel, have been relaxed outside the Eid al-Fitr holiday. Additionally, some businesses have been allowed to resume operations, and Palestinian laborers are permitted to resume work in Israel. Mosques and schools will remain closed during the period, and public gatherings are banned.
As of Monday, May 25, a total of 423 COVID-19 cases were confirmed in the Palestinian territories. Further international spread of the virus is expected in the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the virus.
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