Gaza Reports First Virus-Related Death

GAZA CITY (AP) -
Palestinian policemen loyal to Hamas wear masks as they stand guard at a roundabout amid concerns about the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in the northern Gaza Strip, May 3. (Reuters/Mohammed Salem)

The crowded Gaza Strip recorded its first death from the coronavirus on Saturday, officials said, amid fears an outbreak could paralyze the territory’s already overstretched health care system.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said the deceased was a 77-year-old woman who had underlying health problems and had been placed at a special field hospital near the Rafah border crossing point upon arriving from Egypt.

Gaza’s authorities, led by the Hamas terror groupr, reported 35 confirmed new cases this week, bringing the total to 55. All of the infected have been in designated quarantine and isolation facilities hosting returnees from abroad. There were no reports of community transmission of the virus.

Home to 2 million people, the Gaza Strip has only a little over 60 ventilators and a chronic shortage of medication.

Since mid-March, Hamas has enforced mandatory quarantining at hotels, clinics and schools for all residents returning via Israel and Egypt. With the recent spike of cases, Hamas said it is closing Gaza’s borders for all arrivals until the end of June.