PA: 37 Palestinians around the world died from coronavirus

UN: 4,000 Palestinians returning to Gaza from Egypt place strain on testing capacities

A Palestinian woman, wearing a mask as a preventive measure against coronavirus, looks out of a car upon her return from abroad, at Rafah border crossing in the southern Gaza Strip (photo credit: REUTERS)
A Palestinian woman, wearing a mask as a preventive measure against coronavirus, looks out of a car upon her return from abroad, at Rafah border crossing in the southern Gaza Strip
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Some 37 Palestinians living in different parts of the world have died from the coronavirus, the Palestinian foreign minister said on Wednesday.
By mid-Wednesday, only two Palestinians living in the West Bank had died after contracting the disease.
The coronavirus pandemic has so far claimed the lives of 37 diaspora Palestinians, in addition to 760 confirmed cases, the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates said on Wednesday.
The highest number of death and confirmed cases was among American Palestinians with 27 deaths and 505 cases, the ministry said.
Spain came next with three deaths, while Canada had its first fatality on Wednesday among its Palestinian community in Alberta.
Besides the 505 cases in the US, the ministry provided figures for Palestinians around the world who have tested positive for the virus in the following countries:  70 in Belgium, 32 in Britain, 27 in the USA, 25 in Spain, 15 in Italy, 15 in Sweden, 13 in France, 11 in Turkey and nine in Germany.
The remaining Palestinians diagnosed with the disease are living in Canada, Sweden, France, Greece, Austria, Denmark, Peru, United Arab Emirates, Chile, Qatar, Lebanon, Norway, Algeria, Jordan, China, Egypt, The Netherlands, Ukraine, Brazil, Spain, Germany, Belgium, Britain, Turkey and Switzerland.
The total number of Palestinians living in these countries who have recovered from the disease is 196, 141 of them in the US.
PA Health Minister Mai Alkaila announced on Wednesday that three more Palestinians have been diagnosed with the disease in the areas of Hebron and Ramallah. Two of the patients are from the town of Dura, near Hebron, while the third is from the village of Ni’ilin west of Ramallah, she said, adding that all three work as nurses in the east Jerusalem-based Augusta Victoria Hospital.
The total number of Palestinians infected with the virus was 291 by mid-Wednesday. Some 62 patients have recovered from the disease.
Alkaila said that 75% of the confirmed cases were Palestinian workers in Israel and people they came into contact with, while 10% are Palestinians who returned from abroad.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said on Wednesday that the PA government is leading the efforts to contain the outbreak of the virus with the help of Israeli authorities and international actors, primarily the World Health Organization.
“The capacity of the Palestinian health system to cope with an unexpected increase in caseload remains impaired by longstanding challenges and critical shortages, particularly in the Gaza Strip,” OCHA said, noting that the number of confirmed cases in the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave was 13. “The most needed items are currently in short supply due to the unprecedented global demand, including personal protective equipment kits and supplies to conduct COVID-19 tests.”
The UN organization added that Palestinian hospitals also face shortages of specialized staff in intensive care units. “The imminent influx of up to 4,000 Palestinians into Gaza via the Rafah Crossing, who have been unable to return from Egypt until now, will place additional strain on testing capacities and quarantine facilities,” it cautioned.
“As of April 13, only 2,106 people have been tested for COVID-19 in Gaza. The health authorities in Gaza continue to appeal for more support to procure additional testing kits, with some people waiting to be released from quarantine pending testing.”