The conflict in the Gaza Strip could lead to a New COVID-19 Surge

As the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas continues to claim its life in the Gaza Strip, health experts are drawing attention to another potential crisis: a COVID-19 fire in the area.

The number of COVID-19 infections in Gaza was “just at the level, and after that it happened,” a UN official said. he said in New York Time on May 16 “It’s a sad situation.”

On May 3, before the conflict began, Doctors Without Borders warned of an “extraordinary” increase in COVID-19 cases in Gaza, the strip of land between Israel and Egypt that is ruled by the militant group Hamas and that houses about 2 million Palestinians. Especially spared in the early months of the pandemic, the COVID-19 outbreak in Gaza plummeted considerably in April, led by the spread of the more transmissible variant B.1.1.7. Between March and April, new COVID-19 diagnoses in Gaza went from less than 1,000 each week to more than 1,000 each day, according to Doctors Without Borders.

It is not clear how many people are infected every day now. Violence between Israel and Hamas – which has so far killed more than 200 Palestinians and 12 Israelis, according to CBS News-It has everything, but it closes the COVID-19 test and cure in Gaza, making it almost impossible to get an accurate picture of the fire.

“The number of positive cases is really underestimated. It does not reflect reality,” says Ely Sok, who heads the mission of Médecins Sans Frontières in the Palestinian territories of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. “We expect the number of serious cases that require hospitalization to increase.”

Health services in Gaza were lacking even before the latest violence. Even in times of relative peace, medical centers are often “excessive” and limited by frequent power outages, the UN said. he says. Limitations on imports and movement across borders are also common brought to shortage of supply and medication, and there are often not enough doctors to meet demand.

In recent days, Israeli airstrikes have been reported knock out Hala Al Shwa Primary Health Center, which provides COVID-19 testing and vaccinations to Gaza residents; danatu the road taking him to al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City; and forced temporarily Only laboratory in Gaza to transfer COVID-19 evidence from closure. Dr. Ayman Abu Elouf, who ran the COVID-19 response to al-Shifa, was he remembers even killed in a bombing raid. All COVID-19 vaccinations have been arrested in Gaza, according to the UN, and nearly 60,000 Displaced Palestinians from the conflict they are in many cases huddled together in makeshift shelters that could become super-diffuser sites. “It really gives the whole functioning of the medical system here,” says Hadas Ziv, head of projects and ethics for nonprofit Doctors for Human Rights, based in Jaffa, Israel. “COVID-19 is a bit ruled out because there are injuries and deaths. The limited ability to deal with COVID is now non-existent, almost.”

Now, due to the fatal combination of bombing injuries and COVID-19 cases, hospital the beds end and the doctors struggle to follow through. Electricity, water and sanitation systems are also damaged in many areas, further compromising care.

Right across the border, Israelis are living in a different reality. More than 60% of the Israeli population has achieved this at least one vaccine dose. COVID-19 cases have dropped low enough for the country to suspend the sending of masks to the open air and resume several pre-pandemic activities.

In Gaza, by contrast, only about 2% of people have received a dose. Gaza and the West Bank they received about 60,000 vaccines from the COVAX facility supported by the World Health Organization and are still waiting about 100,000 more, but additional shipments will not come soon. Even if they did, Ziv says, there would not be an adequate infrastructure to store and distribute them during the conflict.

“Even if they now receive the vaccines, it will be difficult to handle a large operation and keep them in the refrigerator,” he says. “It’s impossible to both deal with an armed conflict and the virus.”

Safety concerns, both for patients and providers, also make it nearly impossible to offer all the most critical care, except Sok, he says. “You can do whatever you want, but if the patient can’t access it because of the bombardment, it’s completely useless,” he says. “Only a ceasefire will solve the security problem.”

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