PA says it will receive coronavirus tests kits, ventilators from China

Crisis will reduce PA revenue by 50%

Palestinian women work in a sanitiser factory amid precautions against the coronavirus, in Hebron in the West Bank March 12, 2020 (photo credit: REUTERS/MUSSA QAWASMA)
Palestinian women work in a sanitiser factory amid precautions against the coronavirus, in Hebron in the West Bank March 12, 2020
The Palestinian Authority is expected to receive coronavirus test kits and ventilators from China in the next few days, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said on Sunday.
“At the beginning of the crisis, we were able to examine 412 samples per day,” he said. “I assure our people that we can now examine more than 1,000 samples per day, and we are on our way to increase the number of tests.”
Noting that the number of Palestinians who have tested positive for the virus had risen to 106 by mid-Sunday, Shtayyeh said the figure includes nine patients in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. The number of Palestinians who have recovered from the disease stood at 18 by Sunday morning, he added.
The two most recent confirmed cases of coronavirus were discovered in Hebron and the village of Qattanah, south of Ramallah, Shtayyeh said. The PA has decided to hire 51 new physicians and specialists to help medical teams in the battle against the disease, he revealed.
Shtayyeh said so far there was no shortage in test kits and ventilators in the PA-controlled territories. “We are dealing with this issue on a day-to-day basis,” he told reporters in Ramallah. “We are working to provide everything possible; we don’t have a shortage of anything, although we don’t have enough of what we need.”
The PA government, he said, was in contact with the World Health Organization, Russia, India, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Qatar to seek their help in fighting the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
Shtayyeh thanked Jordan for allowing a drug company to send 40,000 tablets of a drug expected to be one of the medicines that cure the disease. The tablets will arrive in the West Bank on Tuesday, he said.
Shtayyeh predicted that the revenue of the PA will decrease by more than 50% as a result of the crisis.
International aid to the PA will also decline because of the global crisis, he said. “We will work with an austerity emergency budget by reducing expenses as much as possible,” Shtayyeh said, adding that the PA would nevertheless pay its employees full salaries for this month.
Shtayyeh announced that his government would also cancel its decision to force thousands of PA employees in the Gaza Strip into early retirement. The controversial decision was taken by PA President Mahmoud Abbas three years ago as part of economic sanctions he imposed on the Gaza Strip.
“Retirement will become optional,” Shtayyeh clarified. “Equality [between the West Bank and Gaza Strip] is important for us.”
The PA premier said his government needs $120 million to confront coronavirus. He repeated his appeal to Palestinians to stop working in settlements ‘because they are illegally built on our lands and because they are infested with infectious viruses.”
Shtayyeh lashed out at Israel for “pursuing its hostile practices against our people, including house demolitions, arrests and settler terrorism.” He also repeated his call for the release of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons in light of the outbreak of the virus in the region.