GAZA CITY, Palestine
Reeling under a 14-year Israeli blockade, the Gaza Strip is witnessing a dangerous spike in the daily coronavirus infections and fatalities in recent days.
Israel, which has vaccinated most of its citizens against the pandemic, does not provide the COVID-19 vaccine to the Gaza Strip as well as the occupied West Bank.
To date, 81,600 doses of vaccine, mostly donated by other countries, have reached Gaza and only 24,000 people have been vaccinated in the territory.
The Palestinian health system, which is already in a difficult situation due to the Israeli blockade, is on the verge of collapse amid a severe shortage of medicines and equipment.
One out of every three tests conducted in recent days in Gaza City came back positive, according to data by the Health Ministry.
Cases started to pile up in a new wave after the city confirmed less than 200 daily infections in early March. More than 1500 cases have now been confirmed there on a daily basis over the last two days.
Gaza City has reported more than 71,000 infections, including 632 deaths to date, according to the Health Ministry.
The second wave of the COVID-19 outbreak has been more severe than the first wave, Shadi Awad, a doctor at Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City, told Anadolu Agency.
He said the alarming spread of the UK variant of coronavirus has become cause of concern in the city.
As the number of COVID-19 patients in need of hospital admittance rises steadily, health facilities in Gaza Strip struggle to maintain an adequate surplus of rooms and beds for patients, he warned.
Israel has occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, since the 1967 Middle East war.
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*Writing by Zehra Nur Duz