The number of Palestinians who have tested positive for coronavirus rose to 84 after the discovery of seven new cases in the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian Authority Health Ministry reported Thursday afternoon.
Seventeen Palestinians have recovered from the disease, it said.
On Wednesday, Fatmeh Badwan, 60, from the village of Biddu, six kilometers northwest of Ramallah, became the first Palestinian to die after being infected with coronavirus. She may have contracted it from Palestinians who work in Israel, PA spokesman Ibrahim Milhem said.
A small number of people attended the woman’s funeral in her village Wednesday night. Biddu was placed under lockdown as PA policemen closed its entrances.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees announced it is closing its medical clinic in Biddu. It instructed its employees in the village to remain in quarantine until they are tested for the virus.
Thirteen residents of the village have tested positive for coronavirus after the death of the woman, Milhem said. Among those diagnosed with it are the Badwan’s 37-year-old son and his 57-year-old uncle.
Biddu residents said the woman contracted the disease after coming in contact with one of her sons who works in Israel. They appealed to all village residents working in Israel to return home immediately and undergo tests for the virus.
PA Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said Thursday he expected the coming days to be “more difficult not only for Palestinians but for the rest of the world.”
Shtayyeh expressed concern over the possibility that Palestinians working in Israel may be infected with coronavirus. He urged the PA security forces to tighten their measures at border crossings between the West Bank and Israel and between Palestinian cities to prevent the spread of the disease.
Shtayyeh also appealed to Palestinian workers in Israel to return to their homes and undergo tests for the virus.
Meanwhile, sources in the Gaza Strip said seven Hamas policemen have tested positive for the coronavirus.
The policemen had come in contact with two Palestinians who returned last week to the Gaza Strip from an Islamic conference in Pakistan and were diagnosed with the disease, the sources said.
Eyad al-Bazam, spokesman for the Hamas-controlled Interior Ministry, said members of the Gaza Strip security forces were putting their lives at risk to prevent the spread of the virus. The seven policemen who were diagnosed with the disease are in good health, he said.
Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar said a special committee has been set up to coordinate with the Egyptians on preventing the spread of the virus. He called on international health organizations to provide urgent medical aid to the Gaza Strip and on Israel to end its “siege.”
Other Hamas officials urged the PA government to provide the Gaza Strip with medicine and medical equipment to assist in combating the disease. Several Palestinian factions in the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave appealed to PA President Mahmoud Abbas to immediately lift economic sanctions he imposed on the Gaza Strip three years ago.