GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) – The crowded Gaza Strip recorded its first coronary death on Saturday. Officials feared that an outbreak could paralyze the area’s already overburdened health system.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health said the deceased was a 77-year-old woman who had health problems and was brought to a special field hospital near the Rafah border crossing on her arrival from Egypt.
Gaza authorities, led by the militant group Hamas, reported 35 confirmed new cases this week, bringing the number to 55. All those infected were in designated quarantine and isolation facilities that housed returnees from abroad. There have been no reports of the virus being transmitted by the community.
The health system in the Gaza Strip is suffering from the weight of an Israeli-Egyptian blockade, internal Palestinian division, and repeated wars and skirmishes between Israel and Palestinian militant groups.
2 million people live in the Gaza Strip. There are just over 60 ventilators and a chronic shortage of medication.
Since mid-March, Hamas has forced mandatory quarantine in hotels, clinics and schools for all residents returning via Israel and Egypt. Given the recent increase in cases, Hamas said it would close the Gaza border for all arrivals by the end of June.
But on Friday the mosques were reopened for lunch prayers across the Gaza Strip. Worshipers brought their own prayer rugs, wore masks, maintained social distance, and received hand sanitizers. Authorities say the partial reopening of the mosques came after almost two months of closure, after it has been relatively successful in keeping the virus in check and preventing an outbreak.
Schools and wedding halls in Gaza remained closed. The Interior Ministry of Hamas said public and amusement parks cannot be opened during Eid al-Fitr, an important holiday at the end of the holy month of Ramadan, which starts on Sunday.