The Palestinian Authority (PA) Deals with COVID-19 (Overview updated to March 29, 2020)

PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh holds a press conference in Ramallah (Wafa, March 29, 2020).

PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh holds a press conference in Ramallah (Wafa, March 29, 2020).

PA security forces impose a lockdown on the village of Artas, south of Bethlehem, where six cases of COVID-19 were detected.

PA security forces impose a lockdown on the village of Artas, south of Bethlehem, where six cases of COVID-19 were detected.

The PA security forces intensify examinations of people entering and leaving Tulkarm (Wafa, March 28, 2020).

The PA security forces intensify examinations of people entering and leaving Tulkarm (Wafa, March 28, 2020).

Teams from the Jericho municipality carry out disinfections (Wafa, March 27, 2020).

Teams from the Jericho municipality carry out disinfections (Wafa, March 27, 2020).

Teams from the Jericho municipality carry out disinfections (Wafa, March 27, 2020).

Teams from the Jericho municipality carry out disinfections (Wafa, March 27, 2020).

Examining a Palestinian worker who returned from Israel at the entrance to Tulkarm.

Examining a Palestinian worker who returned from Israel at the entrance to Tulkarm.

Palestinian medical teams at the Tarqumiya crossing disinfect Palestinian workers returning from Israel (Wafa, March 25, 2020).

Palestinian medical teams at the Tarqumiya crossing disinfect Palestinian workers returning from Israel (Wafa, March 25, 2020).

Overview

COVID-19 continues spreading throughout Judea and Samaria. A spokesman for the PA government announced that seven additional cases were reported on March 29, two women from the village of Qibiya and five members of a family in the village of Qatanna (northwest of Jerusalem). That brings the number of Palestinians in Judea and Samaria infected with COVID-19 to 97, up from 58 on March 24, 2020 (to the Palestinians in Judea and Samaria, the nine in the Gaza Strip should be added). On March 25, 2020, the first Palestinian died of the virus, a woman from the village of Bidu, north of Jerusalem.

  • There is a lack of ventilators in the PA. There are about 205 ventilators in the government and private hospitals in Judea and Samaria, some of them intended for children. The number of ventilators is far larger than in the Gaza Strip but would still be insufficient to provide an effective response to a broad spread of the virus. In addition, the number of COVID-19 test kits in the PA territories is not large: at a press conference Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh said that initially it had been possible to carry out 412 tests a day, and today they could carry out 1,000. He also said there was no lack of food in the markets (Wafa, March 29, 2020).
Preventive Measures Taken by the PA
  •  In an effort to halt the spread of COVID-19, the Palestinian security forces imposed a lockdown of the cities and villages where the virus had been detected. The lockdown prevents anyone from entering or leaving the villages. One village locked down Artas (south of Bethlehem), where six cases of COVID-19 were detected (Wafa, March 28, 2020). Following the first Palestinian death from the virus, a woman from the village of Bidu (north of Jerusalem), the village and villages nearby were locked down (Facebook page of Muhammad Shtayyeh, March 27, 2020). Teams from the local municipalities continued disinfecting public facilities.
Teams from the Jericho municipality carry out disinfections (Wafa, March 27, 2020).     Teams from the Jericho municipality carry out disinfections (Wafa, March 27, 2020).
Teams from the Jericho municipality carry out disinfections
(Wafa, March 27, 2020).
  • Muhammad Shtayyeh announced that within the next two week 35,000 Palestinian workers currently staying in Israel will return to their homes [in the PA territories]. In ITIC assessment that was done as an attempt to prevent the spread of COVID-19 from Israel to the PA territories. According to Muhammad Shtayyeh, all measures are being taken to examine the Palestinian workers who stayed in Israel (Wafa, March 29, 2020). After they undergo medical examinations they are driven to quarantine centers (Ma’an, March 26, 2020). Prime Minister Shtayyeh and Minister of Health Mai al-Kayla met with the heads of the Palestinian security forces and instructed them to intensify their examinations of Palestinians returning from Israel (Facebook page of Muhammad Shtayyeh, March 27, 2020).
A bus designated for carrying Palestinian workers returning from Israel to quarantine in Tulkarm (Wafa, March 27, 2020).    Examining a Palestinian worker who returned from Israel at the entrance to Tulkarm.
Right: Examining a Palestinian worker who returned from Israel at the entrance to Tulkarm. Left: A bus designated for carrying Palestinian workers returning from Israel to quarantine in Tulkarm (Wafa, March 27, 2020).
  • The Palestinian preventive security force uploaded a video to the social networks calling on Palestinian workers returning from Israel to the PA territories to self-isolate for 14 days and not to come into contact with their surroundings. According to the video it is their national, religious and moral responsibility towards the Palestinian people (Facebook page of Palestinian Minister of Health Mai al-Kayla, March 26, 2020).
The information video issued by the Palestinian preventive security force calling of Palestinian workers returning from Israel to self-isolate for 14 days (Facebook page of the Palestinian minister of health, March 26, 2020).
The information video issued by the Palestinian preventive security force calling of Palestinian workers returning from Israel to self-isolate for 14 days (Facebook page of the Palestinian minister of health, March 26, 2020).
The PA Appeals to the International Community for Help in Coping with COVID-19
  • Hussein al-Sheikh, head of the civilian authority and a member of Fatah’s Central Committee, said the Palestinians are trying to acquire COVID-19 test kits from countries around the globe (Ma’an, March 29, 2020).
  • On March 26, 2020, Palestinian Minister of Health Mai al-Kayla met in the PA with a representative of the EU. She briefed him on the PA’s preparations for coping with COVID-19 and explained the PA’s needs (Facebook page of the PA ministry of health, March 26,2020).

The PA minister of health meets in the PA with the EU representative (Facebook page of the PA ministry of health, March 26, 2020).
The PA minister of health meets in the PA with the EU representative
(Facebook page of the PA ministry of health, March 26, 2020).