Gaza, MINA – Health workers said on Monday they could no longer test for the coronavirus in the Gaza Strip due to a lack of equipment amid a surge in cases in the besieged Palestinian territory. The health ministry called for immediate action to provide the necessary equipment.
In a statement, the ministry said the only laboratory there that could analyze Covid-19 test samples had stopped operating due to a lack of equipment.
“We haven’t received the testing material for the past four days,” said Laboratory Director, Ameed Mushtaha, as reported by Aljazeera on Tuesday.
He said the health ministry asked the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Palestinian Authority (PA) to immediately send medical supplies to Gaza. But the PA, which governs the Palestinian territories of the West Bank is suffering from a shortage of tests and has also asked the WHO for more.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees has warned the Gaza Strip’s health system could collapse if the number of cases increases. PA will receive the Covid-19 vaccine from the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility (COVAX). Gaza will receive a share, but it is not known when.
Hamas senior official and former health minister, Bassem Naim, said authorities typically carry out between 2,500 and 3,000 tests per day at a cost of between US$ 75,000 and US$ 100,000.
“There is an urgent need to take action to save the lives of Gazans and overcome the crisis,” Naim.
Palestine is home to two million people and has been under an Israeli blockade since 2007. Egypt has also closed its border with Gaza.
Authorities closed the Gaza border at the start of the pandemic. They only allow entry to a limited number of people and are then asked to isolate for three weeks in a quarantine center.
In mid-August, Gaza recorded about 100 cases of the coronavirus, but the past two weeks have seen a sharp decline in incarceration. Hamas, on Thursday announced a lockdown at the weekend that runs from December 11 through the end of the month which also closed schools, universities, kindergartens and mosques.
In total, the Palestinian Ministry of Health has recorded more than 74,160 cases of Covid-19, including nearly 700 deaths in the West Bank. Meanwhile in Gaza, nearly 25,600 infections have been registered, including about 150 deaths. (T/RE1)
Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)