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22 Mar 2020 | 11:21 AM UTC

Israel/Palestinian Terr.: First confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Gaza Strip March 22 /update 11

Palestinian authorities confirm first two cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Gaza Strip March 22; further spread of the virus expected

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ISR

Event

On Sunday, March 22, Palestinian health officials confirmed the Gaza Strip's first two cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The infected individuals recently returned from Pakistan and have since been placed under quarantine in Rafah. All those who were in contact with the two men have also reportedly been quarantined.

Previously, authorities shut down all schools, public markets, and event halls in the territory to combat the spread of the virus. Only patients requiring urgent medical treatment outside Gaza are allowed to cross into Egypt or Israel.

Further international spread of the virus is to be expected over the near term.

Context

The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak a pandemic.

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.

Advice

Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.

To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
  • If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the virus.