The Gaza Strip has run out of coronavirus testing kits and has appealed to several external organizations for help in replenishing their supplies, according to the director of the central laboratory in the enclave.
Ameed Mushtaha said on Monday: “We haven’t received any of the testing materials for the last four days.” The lab is the only one in the territory that can process coronavirus tests.
He added that the Health Ministry had asked the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations and the Palestinian Authority (PA) to immediately send medical supplies to Gaza.
An advisor to the Gaza Health Ministry said that the WHO had agreed to the delivery of 5,000 tests.
The PA, however, which rules the Palestinian territories in the West Bank, is suffering from its own shortage of tests and has also turned to the WHO for more.
The Hamas-run Ministry of Health in Gaza recorded 10 deaths and 471 new Covid-19 infections in the last 24 hours, but the number of tests performed was much lower than usual.
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The number of infections has recently spiked in Gaza, where 2 million people live in cramped conditions with poor infrastructure.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine (UNRWA) has warned the strip’s health system could collapse if the number of cases continues to rise.
Meanwhile, in the West Bank, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh announced a seven-day lockdown in Bethlehem, Hebron, Nablus and Tulkarm, starting late on Thursday.
The PA Health Ministry reported 1,249 new Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours in the West Bank, along with 10 deaths.
The Palestinian Authority is expected to receive Covid-19 vaccines from the vaccine distribution alliance Covax. Gaza will get a share of those, but it is know yet know when.