The Palestinian health ministry said on Sunday it had identified the first case of the Omicron coronavirus variant in the Gaza Strip.
The carrier is a Gaza resident who was infected within the coastal territory, ministry official Majdi Dhair told a news conference.
Dhair said this meant the variant, first identified in southern Africa and Hong Kong last month, existed in Gaza and was now spreading among the population. The discovery poses a new challenge to the enclave’s under-developed health system.
“We are ahead of difficult days. It is expected that the Omicron variant will spread fast,” he told reporters.
Gaza, with a population of 2.2 million people, has registered 189,837 COVID-19 infections and 1,691 deaths.
Dhair urged Gazans to get vaccinated, putting the percentage of those who had already received shots at around 40 percent.
The Palestinian enclave has been under siege by Israel for 14 years.
The UN and human rights groups have appealed to Israel to end the siege on Gaza, which has had a devastating impact on the 2 million Palestinians living in Gaza.
(Source / 26.12.2021)