Gaza Faces "Humanitarian Disaster" amid Acute Shortage of Medical Supplies in Handling COVID-19: Health Ministry


GAZA, Sept. 21 (Xinhua) -- The health ministry in the Gaza Strip announced on Monday that Gaza would soon witness a humanitarian disaster amid an acute shortage of medical supplies and equipment in handling the COVID-19 outbreak.

Ashraf al-Qedra, spokesman of the health ministry in Gaza, told Xinhua that the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for the novel coronavirus can only enough for two days, which would cause a catastrophe.

The densely populated coastal enclave needs to double the PCR tests to combat the virus and avoid its spread, al-Qedra said.

In addition, medical supplies for patients with cancer, heart and kidney conditions who are suffering from weak immunity are in dire shortage, the spokesman added.

If one of them is infected with the virus, they will face an inevitable death, especially in the light of the deterioration of the health sector, al-Qedra warned.

Meanwhile, the percentage of deficit in pharmaceutical stocks is estimated at 47 percent, while the medical disposables at 33 percent, said Munir al-Bursh, director-general of the pharmaceutical department at the Gaza health ministry.

He called on the Ramallah-based health ministry to provide Gaza with additional equipment to ensure the enclave's ability to conduct tests for the coronavirus.

On Aug. 24, Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry declared the first four COVID-19 cases inside the Palestinian enclave, leading to a full lockdown on the entire enclave to curb the spread of the deadly virus.

Since then, all schools, universities, markets, and private institutions have been closed, and public gatherings prohibited.

The local residents face the most dangerous disease with severe deterioration of the health and economic sectors, Amjad al-Shawa, director of the Palestinian Non-governmental Network in Gaza, told Xinhua.

So far, the Gaza Strip has recorded 2,400 COVID-19 cases, including 17 deaths.

It is worth noting that Gaza witnessed military tensions with the Israeli army for several weeks in August when the Palestinian youths were launching incendiary balloons toward Israeli communities.

In response, Israeli warplanes had been targeting dozens of military sites belonging to the Hamas movement.

The violence between Gaza and Israel, according to Palestinian and Israeli commentators, was triggered by Israel's refusal to allow the transfer of Qatari money into the besieged Palestinian enclave.