Virus cases spike in Israel-blockaded Gaza

GAZA CITY (AFP) – The number of novel coronavirus cases in the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip have risen tenfold over the past two weeks, bringing the total to over 1,000, Palestinian officials said yesterday.

In the past 24 hours, 182 infections were registered in the coastal enclave, bringing the number of cases to 1,151, including eight deaths, the Palestinian Authority Health Ministry said.

The crowded and impoverished Gaza Strip had maintained low infection rates since the start of the pandemic, as it remained isolated from much of the world.

The narrow territory is sealed off by a formidable security barrier on its landward sides, with just two crossing points: One into Israel and the other into Egypt.

But crossings at both points were blocked in March, with few exceptions.

Gazans stuck outside the enclave were allowed to return home, but had to be isolated for three weeks in quarantine centres.