In crowded Gaza, public embraces mask-wearing to fight COVID-19

Palestinians, mask-clad due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, wait to cross to the Egyptian side of Rafah border crossing in the southern Gaza Strip on September 27, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 01 October 2020

In crowded Gaza, public embraces mask-wearing to fight COVID-19

  • Gaza’s security forces enforce a ban on beach-going
  • Police man checkpoints, inspecting vehicles to ensure drivers and passengers wear masks

GAZA: The coronavirus may have been slow to reach the sealed-off Gaza Strip, but Palestinians in the densely populated enclave have been quick to embrace mask-wearing to try to contain its spread.
Five weeks into an outbreak of COVID-19 among the general population in the territory, restaurants, many shops, schools, mosques and other public facilities remain closed, and a night-time curfew is in effect.
It is rare to see anyone without a mask outdoors, with the coronavirus death toll at 20 and nearly 3,000 cases reported since infections spread beyond border quarantine facilities on Aug. 24.
Citing security concerns, Israel and Egypt maintain tight restrictions along the frontier with Gaza, where two million people live under the rule of the Islamist Hamas group.
Tariq Zaanin, 35, from the Gaza town of Beit Hanoun, said Gazans had thought their hated isolation from the outside world would at least keep them safe from the global pandemic.
“Today it has spread in your neighborhood, hitting friends and relatives. So people are now more cautious because they are afraid for themselves and for those they care about,” he said.
Zaanin, a hairdresser, got married on Sept. 22 but social distancing meant canceling a large wedding dinner.
“Some may say it saved us money, but it took away our joy,” he said.
International health officials caution that a wider COVID-19 outbreak in Gaza would be disastrous, given its under-developed health system and a chronic shortage of medical supplies.
Gaza’s security forces enforce a ban on beach-going, a popular activity in the enclave, where frequent power cuts make cooling off that much harder.
Police man checkpoints, inspecting vehicles to ensure drivers and passengers wear masks.
Eyad Al-Bozom, a Gaza interior ministry spokesman, said people who violate health regulations or the curfew can be fined or detained.


Algeria president to return ‘within days’ from German hospital

Updated 33 min 27 sec ago

Algeria president to return ‘within days’ from German hospital

  • The presidency said Tebboune had left the hospital and was having a ‘period of convalescence’ as recommended by his medical team
  • Tebboune, who is 75 and a heavy smoker, was admitted to hospital in Germany on October 28 to undergo ‘in-depth medical examinations’

ALGIERS: Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune is to return home within days after a month of hospitalization in Germany with coronavirus, his office said Monday.
“The president of the republic assures the Algerian people about his health, that he is on the way to recovery and will be returning home in the coming days,” it said in a statement.
The presidency said Tebboune had left the hospital and was having a “period of convalescence” as recommended by his medical team. It gave no other details.
Tebboune, who is 75 and a heavy smoker, was admitted to hospital in Germany on October 28 to undergo “in-depth medical examinations,” according to the presidency.
He was transferred from a facility in the Algerian capital days after going into self-isolation following reports of novel coronavirus cases among his aides.
A day before he was transferred abroad, the presidency said Tebboune’s “state of health does not raise any concern” but a week later it announced he had contracted Covid-19.
While he was still in hospital in Germany, his office also said the president had finished his treatment and was undergoing “post-protocol medical tests.”
But updates on his medical condition have been irregular and his lengthy absence fueled speculation and fears of a political vacuum.
Monday’s statement was the first released by his office since mid-November.