ICRC: Gazans face ‘double crisis’, need international support

Gazans are facing a critical “double crisis” as they struggle to cope with an acute electricity shortage just as COVID-19 has escaped containment and begun community transmission among the vulnerable population of the Strip, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said.

“The population of Gaza is under terrible strain,” said Ignacio Casares Garcia, head of the ICRC’s Gaza Sub-delegation. “People are stressed: not only are they coping with just four hours of electricity a day; their worries over the virus have been hugely compounded and they are now under lockdown.”

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Gaza had managed to prevent community transmission of the virus through a strict quarantine regime that had seemingly worked well until this week. That changed on Monday, with the announcement of confirmed cases outside of quarantine centers.

“The Gaza healthcare system would not be able to deal with more than a few dozen coronavirus patients,” said Casares Garcia. “The treatment of COVID-19 patients requires medical and laboratory equipment and special supplies and medications that are not available in hospitals and health centers in sufficient quantities.”

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Casares Garcia said the population of the Strip now had their own part to play in preventing a more extensive outbreak. “We urge everyone in Gaza to strictly comply with preventative measures. Compliance is crucial at this worrying time.”

While international efforts have improved the capacity of Gaza’s health facilities to cope with an outbreak since the start of the pandemic, more needs to be done.

“We want to reaffirm our commitment to doing all we can to support the Gaza population as they face the virus,” said Casares Garcia. “They can’t do this alone. They need all the international assistance they can get to make sure they are equipped to deal with the crisis.”

The ICRC has provided supplies and equipment, including vital ICU equipment, chlorine, personal protective equipment (PPE) and hospital supplies, and carried out infrastructure improvements in the hospital assigned to treat COVID19 patients in Gaza. More PPE is available and will be provided to the authorities soon, said the ICRC.

(Source / 27.08.2020)

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