The United Nations has warned that a Covid-19 outbreak in Gaza could be disastrous, given the high poverty rates and weak health system in the coastal strip under Israeli blockade since 2007.
Authorities in Gaza has confirmed the first two cases of novel coronavirus on Sunday, identifying the individuals as Palestinians who had travelled to Pakistan and were held in quarantine on their return.
But Gaza’s health ministry said the two people who tested positive had been held in quarantine since their return from Pakistan on Thursday and did not interact with the wider population.
“These two cases were recorded among those who returned to Gaza … (and) did not mix with the residents of the Gaza Strip,” deputy health minister Yousef Abu Al-Reesh told reporters.
The sick, identified as two men, were in stable condition, the health ministry said.
Israel has enforced a blockade on Gaza since 2007, when Islamist group Hamas seized control of the territory. Israel argues the measures are necessary to isolate Hamas, considered a terrorist organisation by most Western countries. Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since 2008.
Movement in and out of the territory – severely restricted by Israel and Egypt before the pandemic – has tightened in response to the coronavirus. Authorities in Gaza have said that more than 2 700 Palestinians are in home-isolation, mostly people who had returned from Egypt.