GAZA CITY: Health authorities in Gaza fear a third wave of COVID-19 disease after emergency measures collapsed during 11 days of fighting with Israel.
Gazans “completely forgot about the dangers of the coronavirus pandemic” while the fighting raged, officials said.
Gaza has witnessed a frantic return to life after clashes that killed more than 250 people, wounded 1,950, and destroyed residential buildings and key commercial facilities.
The Hamas-run Ministry of Health in Gaza said that it is struggling to return to its work confronting the pandemic with the same energy it had shown before the conflict erupted.
Ashraf Al-Qidra, a ministry spokesman, said that Gazans were unable to follow health protocols and preventive measures during the fighting.
He said that before the recent conflict the health ministry had been expecting a decrease in the epidemiological curve, but now there were fears of a third wave of the pandemic.
Rami Al-Abadla, director of the ministry’s safety and infection control unit, agreed, adding that “the outbreak of a third wave of coronavirus is strongly expected.”
Thousands of Palestinians have been forced from their homes and are sheltering in crowded facilities, he said.
More than 100,000 Palestinians are believed to be sheltering in homes and schools run by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).
Al-Abadla said that reimposing strict health measures in Gaza will be difficult.
“People will not follow any measures at the present time after facing difficult times and dangerous days,” he said.
Muhammad Abbas was among those who fled to schools run by UNRWA to escape the violence.
Abbas said that he took his pregnant wife, five children and disabled father to a school in Jabaliya camp in northern Gaza after fleeing his home in the village of Umm Al-Nasr in Beit Lahia, which was hit by Israeli airstrikes.