Gaza Resumes COVID Testing After Receiving Kits From World Health Organization

As cases keep rising, Gaza Health Ministry says the delivery, which follows a halt due to shortage, will be enough for eight days of testing

Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury
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A technician handles swab samples for coronavirus disease testing, at Gaza Health Ministry central laboratory in Gaza City on December 7, 2020.
A technician handles swab samples for coronavirus disease testing, at Gaza Health Ministry central laboratory in Gaza City on December 7, 2020. Credit: MAHMUD HAMS / AFP
Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

The Gaza Strip can resume coronavirus testing and has enough kits for eight days after receiving 19,500 coronavirus of them testing kits from the World Health Organization, the enclave’s Health Ministry said on Monday.

The ministry said on Sunday that the main laboratory conducting coronavirus tests in Gaza had been forced to halt operations because of a shortage of equipment.

It was the latest in a series of dire signs about the state of Gaza's medical situation due to the ongoing rise in the number of coronavirus patients. Last week, around 30 percent of coronavirus tests in Gaza were coming back positive, with the daily number of tests ranging from 2,000 to 2,500.

The number of confirmed active cases has passed 10,000. The ministry said on Sunday that it had recently increased the number of hospital beds for coronavirus patients to 170 and hopes to increase the number to 200 in the next few weeks.

Ministry sources said the actual number of virus carriers is probably higher than the official figure, given the relatively low number of daily tests and the fact that the diagnostic lab has ceased to function.

Recently, 10 Israeli doctors witnessed the situation in Gaza first-hand during a visit organized by Physicians for Human Rights. It was the first time Israeli doctors had entered the territory since the pandemic began.

One of them, Dr. Jamal Dakdouki, said there’s great concern that the number of hospitalized patients will soar because of an influx of flu patients combining with a coronavirus spike, leading to talk of imposing a two-week lockdown starting on December 15.

“Gaza’s health system has been in a severe crisis for years, and even more so following the eruption of the coronavirus,” said Salah Haj Yahye, who coordinates PHR’s activity in Gaza. He added that the visit wasn’t merely a humanitarian operation, but also a reminder that Gaza is suffering from a prolonged closure that harms patients, medical staff and the entire population.

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