A delegation of doctors organized by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) entered the Gaza Strip on Thursday morning, December 3, to provide free treatment for hundreds of Gazans impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The delegation is the first of its kind from Israel to enter the Palestinian enclave since the start of the pandemic in the region, nine months ago.
The delegation’s twelve doctors are conducting surgeries, medical training, and instruction for Palestinian medical teams, the rights group said. All of the delegation’s treatment is being provided for free. The individual doctors arriving from inside Israel are all volunteers as well, and are not being compensated for their participation in the delegation.
The delegation brought medical equipment and drugs with which to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the doctors’ delegation focused on urgent cases that have been delayed as Gaza’s hospitals have filled with coronavirus patients. The delegation included senior doctors, orthopedists, neurologists, heart surgeons, and mental health experts, according to PHR. The doctors have also opened a mobile medical facility in the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis to accept patients.
The Gaza Strip had 10,321 total active infections on Thursday of last week. Three weeks ago, in mid-November, the number was around 2,000. Over 30% of coronavirus tests then administered came back positive, indicating that the virus could be spreading widely undetected. Health officials in the Hamas-ruled territory have warned that Gaza’s fragile health system cannot bear much more strain and is close to collapse. The Gaza Strip’s healthcare system has been battered by a 13-year-blockade by Israel and Egypt and several Israeli military actions. “This delegation is not just a humanitarian action, but also a reminder that the Gaza Strip is not simply confronting coronavirus, but also the continuing blockade which hurts the ill, medical staff, and the entire civilian population in Gaza,” PHR director Ran Goldstein told The Times of Israel.
According to Palestinian Health Minister Mai al-Kaileht, the latest data for confirmed coronavirus cases in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza) has reached 108,280, 70,865 in the West Bank, 23,811 in the Gaza Strip and 13,604 in East Jerusalem.
Recoveries have totaled 82,809, and the death toll has reached 890, with 24,581 cases still active. Recoveries account for 76.5% of total cases since the pandemic’s outbreak in March, active cases for 22.7%, and deaths for 0.8% of the total cases.