Palestinian officials on Saturday denied that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has been hospitalized after testing positive for coronavirus.
The officials said the 84-year-old Abbas was in good health and closely following developments surrounding the pandemic.
According to the officials, the president has been in self-isolation for the past two weeks after coming in contact with people suspected of being infected with the COVID-19 disease. One of Abbas’s top aides has been placed in quarantine after he returned from abroad and showed symptoms of the disease, the officials added.
One official pointed out that Abbas was holding intensive consultations over the phone with several Palestinian officials regarding the PA government’s measures to combat the virus.
“President Abbas is closely following developments of the health situation and plans to combat the spread of coronavirus with the relevant parties,” said Hussein al-Sheikh, head of the Palestinian General Authority of civil Affairs and member of the Fatah central Committee. “He is in good health and all the rumors are untrue.”
Sheikh claimed that a “fifth column and yellow journalism” are behind the rumors in order to “undermine our internal front at this critical stage.”
PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat also reacted to the rumors. Abbas, Erekat said, “is following up events related to coronavirus and other developments.”
Erekat dismissed as “untrue” rumors that Abbas had been admitted to hospital for treatment. “Abbas’s health is excellent and all the rumors are lies designed to create confusion,” Erekat said.
According to the rumors, Abbas was rushed to the Istishari Arab Hospital in Ramallah early Saturday morning.
Some rumors claimed Abbas was in “serious condition,” while others said he left the hospital after undergoing routine checkups.
On Friday, Abbas sent a message to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson wishing him a speedy recovery after the latter announced that he had tested positive for coronavirus, according to the PA’s official news agency Wafa.
The agency said Abbas on Friday received a phone call from Tunisian President Kais Saied, who offered his country’s assistance to the Palestinians in fighting the virus.
Earlier, PA government spokesman Ibrahim Milhem announced that six new cases of coronavirus have been detected in the PA-controlled territories, bringing the total number of infected Palestinians to 97.
Milhem said that four of the cases were discovered in the Bethlehem area, while two others were confirmed in the villages of Hizma and al-Qibya, south of Ramallah. Eighteen Palestinians have recovered from the disease, he added.