Palestinian Authority Sends 100 COVID Samples to Israel to Test for Omicron Variant

Palestinian Health Minister says West Bank labs cannot test for the new COVID variant, which the PA suspects may be in the territory

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Palestinian workers line up to enter Israel through the Mitar checkpoint in Hebron, in 2020.
Palestinian workers line up to enter Israel through the Mitar checkpoint in Hebron, in 2020.Credit: HAZEM BADER / AFP
Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

The Palestinian Authority suspects that the COVID omicron variant has made its way to the West Bank, Palestinian Health Minister Dr. Mai al-Kila said on Sunday.

Kila told Voice of Palestine radio that the PA has sent 100 coronavirus test samples to Israel to confirm whether they are omicron cases.

She noted that laboratories in the West Bank do not have the ability to test for the new variant, so the samples were brought to Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer in central Israel.

As of Monday morning, no omicron cases have been reported in the West Bank, while Israel reported seven cases of the new variant.

Over the weekend, 126 more COVID cases were diagnosed in the West Bank and 64 in Gaza. The West Bank recorded two deaths from the virus, and Gaza one. There are currently 85 Palestinian COVID patients in serious condition, 51 of whom are on ventilators. 

The Palestinian Health Ministry reports that as of Saturday, 136,610 people have received three doses of the vaccine, 117,523 of them in the West Bank; 1,041,347 people have received the Pfizer-BioNTech or the Russian Sputnik vaccine in the West Bank, and 409,286 in Gaza. 

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