Sheba doctor teaches Palestinians to treat coronavirus

Bar-On: Palestinians are worried Arab citizens of Israel could spread virus to territories

Farid Mustafa from Nablus (left) and Akram Abu Salah from Gaza train at Sheba Medical Center (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Farid Mustafa from Nablus (left) and Akram Abu Salah from Gaza train at Sheba Medical Center
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The Palestinian Authority is concerned that Arabs living in Israel and traveling into the West Bank will spread coronavirus, said Prof. Elhanan Bar-On, head of Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer’s Israel Center for Disaster Medicine and Humanitarian Response.
So far, Israel has close to 4,000 cases of coronavirus and the PA has around 90.
At the same time, Bar-On said, if Israel does not support and work together with the PA, there is likely to be a large number of cases entering Israel from the territories, as well.
While Gaza and the West Bank have yet to see many critical patients, like elsewhere around the globe, it is expected that the virus will continue spreading and they will be handling severe cases in the near future.
Bar-On learned more about these concerns last week on a teaching and training mission that brought him and representatives from the Health Ministry and the Palestinian Authority to Jericho, east Jerusalem and at the Erez Crossing on the Gaza border.
During the visits, Bar-On shared the experience he has gained treating coronavirus patients in Israel. He was the only Israeli healthcare professional in the delegation.
“Because this is a completely new scenario, sharing knowledge among healthcare providers is of utmost importance,” Bar-On told the post. “A lot of it is me giving them the tips of the trade and how to adjust their facilities and adapt for this new situation.”
Specifically, he addressed setting up adequate triage areas and keeping coronavirus patients in isolation.
“The goal of protecting the medical team was a very high priority, as well as protecting your facility, because if you don’t have a clean facility or you have teams infected you cannot treat patients,” he told The Jerusalem Post.
In an interview with KAN news, a Palestinian doctor said that the PA’s biggest challenge is manpower – people that know how to treat people with respiratory illnesses or even to use respirators.
Bar-On said the Palestinians were “very receptive: No one has time to deal with ancillary topics – politics or anything else,” he said. “Everyone understands we are in the same boat and we have to work together to stay safe.”