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March 31, 2020 8:54 am

Hamas Prepares for Mass Quarantines in Gaza Strip

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Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh attends a groundbreaking ceremony for the Rafah Medical Complex in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, on Nov. 23, 2019. Photo: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90. – In order to protect the Gaza Strip population of 2 million people from the spread of the coronavirus, Hamas is rushing to build two huge quarantine centers.

Hamas ordered the facilities to be built after pictures were shown of supposed quarantine centers with people celebrating birthday parties and meeting with visiting relatives, according to an AP report published on Monday. Hamas has also opened 18 more facilities in clinics and hotels.

“We have been very clear on how the quarantine facilities should look like and offer in terms of facilities, and services and support. But this is obviously easier said than done in Gaza, where there is substantial shortage in almost everything,” said Dr. Gerald Rockenschaub, the World Health Organization’s director in the Palestinian territories.

According to WHO, there are only 60 respirators in Gaza, and only 15 are currently available.

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Palestinian health officials announced earlier this month that two Gazans who recently returned from Pakistan had tested positive for COVID-19, raising concerns that due the poor health care and dense population in the Hamas-controlled enclave, the virus would spread rapidly.

However, data from Gaza is minimal, as only 20 percent of the 1,700 in quarantine have been tested, the report noted.

Some are not following guidelines, holding wedding celebrations in homes, for example, since wedding halls are currently closed.

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