Most new West Bank Palestinian coronavirus cases are workers from Israel

The PA is particularly concerned about the issue because due to the upcoming Passover holiday, some 50,000 Palestinian workers are expected to return home to the West Bank next week.

FILE PHOTO: Palestinian workers make their way to disinfect religious sites as preventive measures against the coronavirus, in Ramallah in the in the West Bank March 7, 2020 (photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/FILE PHOTO)
FILE PHOTO: Palestinian workers make their way to disinfect religious sites as preventive measures against the coronavirus, in Ramallah in the in the West Bank March 7, 2020
(photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/FILE PHOTO)
Most of the 21 West Bank Palestinians diagnosed with the coronavirus on Thursday had returned from their work in Israel and the settlements, the Palestinian Authority’s Primary Health Care director-general Kamal al-Shakhra told the Palestinian news agency,WAFA.
PA Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said that the continued movement of the workers between Israel and the West Bank was a "severe blow" to his government's efforts to curb the spread of the virus.
In a statement he issued on Wednesday following the announcement that 15 more Palestinian workers have tested positive for coronavirus, Shtayyeh warned that the "Israeli economy is not more precious than the the lives of our sons.”
The PA is particularly concerned about the issue because due to the upcoming Passover holiday, some 50,000 Palestinian workers are expected to return home to the West Bank next week.
Israeli Health Ministry official said they are very concerned about the situation. The ministry is working on the matter with the National Security Council and the army. 

To date there are some 155 Palestinians who have contracted the disease, with only 12 of them in Gaza. So far, there has been only one death and that as in the West Bank.
While concern has focused on the need to prevent an outbreak in the Gaza Strip due to crowded conditions and its fragile health case system that is not expected to be able to sustain the impact of a heavy case load of COVID-19 patients.
But its borders are heavily monitored, so that it can isolate those Palestinians returning to Gaza, either through the pedestrian crossings at Erez on the Israeli side and Rafah on the Egyptian side.
All those returning are put into isolation for 14 days, and at present there are over 1,800 returning Palestinians who were quarantined.
Ahmed Najjar, a representative of the PA Ministry of Health, said that his ministry was closely following the situation in the Gaza Strip since the beginning of the crisis. "The authorities in the Gaza Strip have managed to prevent the spread of the virus by imposing severe restrictions at the border with Egypt," Najjar said. "Anyone entering through the Rafah border crossing is immediately placed in quarantine. This measure has prevented the disease from spreading to the rest of the Gaza Strip. All the quarantine centers are located near the border [with Egypt] or in remote areas. Unlike the West Bank, where it's easy to cross into Israel, the Gaza Strip is isolated and its borders with Israel and Egypt are completely sealed."
Due to the Corona virus Israel has closed the checkpoints to Palestinians entering Israel and the settlements, but Palestinians were allowed to shelter in place in the areas they worked. They are also allowed. to return home.
It is impossible to systematically track the returning Palestinians from Israel or the settlements, some of whom are legal workers returning home and others who are illegally crossing through unmonitored areas.   
Ghassan Nimer, spokesman for the PA Ministry of Interior said, "The Palestinian government is preparing for their return. The workers will be required to remain in isolation at their homes and avoid physical contact with others in their home.”
Despite the ongoing cooperation between the Palestinian Authority and Israel to curb the spread of coronavirus, PA officials claimed that the measures Israel has been taking, especially regarding the movement of Palestinian workers between Israel and the West Bank, are insufficient.
“The number of workers returning in Israel who have contracted the disease is high," said a senior official at the PA prime minister's office. "These workers have transferred the virus to their families and many others."
According to the official, the Israeli authorities failed to take precautionary measures to prevent the workers allowed into Israel from contracting the disease despite repeated appeals by the PA Ministry of Health to its counterparts in the Israeli Ministry of Health.
A PA Ministry of Health official in Ramallah said that cooperation between Palestinian and Israeli medical professionals has been ongoing since the outbreak of the pandemic. "Our teams hold daily contacts and sessions with their Israeli counterparts to assess the situation and discuss ways of preventing the spread of the disease," the official said."We have a joint command center that has been operating since the first coronavirus cases were discovered in Bethlehem four weeks ago. Our main concern now is that the Palestinians working in settlements and in Israel are exposed to the virus. In this regard, the Israeli authorities have not been helpful."