Rafah Crossing. Photo by Asmaa Elkhaldi
Rafah Crossing. Photo by Asmaa Elkhaldi

May 21, 2020. Today, 19 more people were determined to have tested positive for the coronavirus, after 10 additional cases were announced by the Gaza Ministry of Health over the course of the week bringing the weekly total to 29.

All of the individuals that have tested positive so far in the Strip entered Gaza via Rafah Crossing. The cases announced today are from three separate government-run quarantine centers throughout the Strip. There is concern that some of the individuals may have come into contact with others in the quarantine centers and possibly also individuals outside the centers. According to media reports, the local authorities are considering intensifying the lockdown in the Strip in response.

This weeks’ cases bring the total number of individuals with confirmed cases in the Strip to 49, 16 of which have recovered from the virus.

Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, a total of some 8, 650 tests have been conducted in the Strip. According to the Gaza Health Ministry, as of May 21, there were 17 government-operated quarantine centers operating in the Strip, housing 1,656 people and 296 staff. About 10 percent of the staff are medical personnel, another 60 percent are security officials and the rest are maintenance workers.

Rafah Crossing opened for return of Palestinians to the Strip May 12-14, when, according to figures from the UN, about 1,168 individuals crossed into Gaza via Egypt. On May 5, Allenby Bridge Border Crossing between Jordan and the West Bank was also opened and allowed some 143 individuals to cross from Jordan to Gaza via the West Bank and Israel. On May 18, Allenby opened and 41 people crossed to Gaza.

According to the World Health Organization, there are currently 52 testing kits in Gaza, which will allow for about 5,000 tests to be conducted. More could be procured if needed.

The Kerem Shalom commercial crossing between Gaza and Israel is operating as usual. Salah a-Din gate on the Gaza-Egypt border is also operating as usual (three days a week).

Gisha continues to urge Israel to lift ongoing access restrictions to ensure economic activity to the greatest possible extent at this time and protect food security in the Strip.