Gaza Mulls Lockdown on Eid al-Fitr Holiday as Coronavirus Cases Rise

Twenty-nine new cases of coronavirus discovered in Strip, bringing total to 55 – out of a population of 2 million

Jack Khoury
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A worker packs sweets outside a shop in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, May 19, 2020.
A worker packs sweets outside a shop in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, May 19, 2020.Credit: REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa
Jack Khoury

Twenty-nine new cases of coronavirus have been diagnosed in the Gaza Strip among Palestinians returning in recent days from the Rafah and Erez crossings. They have been placed in isolation.

The number of patients in the Strip since the beginning of the crisis has now risen to 55, of whom 16 have recovered. Gaza’s population is 2 million.

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Bibi swears in his colossal coalition and readies for a courtroom showdown Credit: Haaretz

This is the largest number diagnosed in the Strip since the beginning of the crisis. The Gaza Health Ministry is awaiting the results of hundreds of additional tests done over the past two days.

Hamas authorities in Gaza announced that as of Thursday, the Rafah and Erez crossings will be closed due to the new outbreak.

In addition, it was decided to put another 200 Gazans into isolation for fear they had been in contact with patients who had been diagnosed in recent days.

According to health officials, the patients had come in contact with dozens of people staying in isolation centers. Health officials in Gaza are now investigating whether there was contact between the patients and people outside the isolation facilities, which would augur for a greater number of cases.

The Gazan Health Ministry announced a high alert following the new cases found Thursday.

A Hamas official, Khalil Alhiya, said the increase in the number of patients poses a serious threat that requires taking further measures to contain the virus’ spread.

He said Gaza authorities are considering the possibility of imposing a complete closure on holiday days (Eid al-Fitr) throughout the Strip. He said the decision will be made by the end of the week when the results of the tests are received.