Middle East, Latest on coronavirus outbreak

Gaza running short of tools for diagnosing COVID-19

Struggle against virus decimated by Israeli blockade, which has led to severe shortages of medicine, equipment

Safiye Karabacak   | 09.04.2020
Gaza running short of tools for diagnosing COVID-19

GAZA, Palestine 

The Gaza Strip is facing severe shortages of equipment for diagnosing the novel coronavirus, the Palestinian Health Ministry said Wednesday. 

The central laboratory in Gaza has halted testing after running out of coronavirus detection kits, ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra told reporters.

Noting that dozens of samples are still waiting to be examined, Qidra said 44% of medicines, 31% of medical consumables and 65% of laboratory supplies have also been depleted.

He said 1,018 patients have recovered and were discharged from hospitals.

Palestinians who return to Gaza City from abroad are being kept in quarantine for 21 days at schools, hotels and health centers, he added.

Gaza's struggle against the coronavirus pandemic has been decimated by Israel's 13-year blockade, which has caused severe shortages of medicine and equipment.

The blockade has shattered the coastal enclave’s economy and deprived its 2 million residents of free movement in and out of Gaza, preventing the entry of many basic amenities.

The Palestinian Health Ministry announced two new coronavirus cases Wednesday, bringing the total to 263, including 13 infections in the Gaza Strip.

Later in the day, the Palestinian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that a total of 500 Palestinians residing in various countries have been infected with the virus while 23 Palestinian nationals living abroad had died from the pandemic.

The number of confirmed cases worldwide has surpassed 1.5 million with over 87,700 deaths and more than 317,800 recoveries, according to U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.

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