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With Delta Variant Keeps Spreading Across Gaza, Local Doctor Warns Hospitals Might Collapse

Sputnik News

20210930
Elizabeth Blade

The hospitals of the Strip do not only lack beds that can take in severe patients; they are also in dire need of ventilators, with the local authorities struggling to contain the situation.

Hamas, which controls the enclave, has introduced a number of restrictive measures to stop the spread of the disease and has launched several campaigns to encourage vaccination.

Just like in neighbouring Israel, where COVID-19 continues to take lives, in the Gaza Strip authorities are scratching their heads over the fast spread of the Delta variant, which is believed to be 70 percent more contagious than the original virus.

Wednesday registered more than 1,200 new cases in the coastal enclave, pushing the total number of current patients to nearly 20,000.

Public's Fault

Yousef al-Akkad, the director of the European Gaza Hospital, one of the main medical establishments that has been dealing with severe COVID-19 cases, says the recent spike in numbers can be blamed on "the general public that fails to adhere to restrictive and preventative measures" set by the Hamas government that controls the Strip.

In March, even before the first Delta case was registered, Hamas put forward a series of restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the virus.

They imposed a nightly curfew, banned the establishment of mourning tents, forbid participation in large gatherings as well as big parties or weddings, and they limited the amount of people who could stay in an enclosed space.

Many of those restrictions stayed in place when the first cases of Delta emerged, in the end of August, but the public was largely indifferent, taking a "business as usual" attitiude.

Struggling to Stay Afloat

Now as the death toll continues to rise in Gaza, al-Akkad says the Strip's hospitals might have a serious problem coping with the situation.

"The situation in my hospital is catastrophic. We receive many coronavirus patients, most of them are infected with the Delta variant of COVID-19".

"The way it stands now, there are nearly 500 cases that require hospital beds. 270 of them are people in critical condition, and this means that if they are not treated, we might see the death toll going up".

To treat those patients, al-Akkad says he needs beds and equipment, but these have proven to be a hot a commodity in the Strip.

According to official numbers, the European Gaza hospital has a total of 100 beds. 250 others are located in the Turkish hospital of Gaza.

Apart from beds, the European Gaza hospital is also struggling with ventilators, and al-Akkad says the same alarming situation is being observed in other medical establishments across the Strip.

In total, the coastal enclave has 96 respiratory devices. 63 of them are dispersed across hospitals that belong to the Ministry of Health. 9 are located in hospitals affiliated with the local NGOs. SEven are placed in military hospitals, whereas 17 are owned by private medical establishments but ten of those are inactive.

Al-Akkad is certain that if the situation continues to spiral out of control, local hospitals will collapse and the authorities will struggle to keep them afloat.

"We are worried about the situation in the Strip. This variant is extremely infectious and can kill even young people, so we are urging everyone to adhere to restrictive measures and those, who haven't been vaccinated yet, to go and get a jab."

So far, not many have taken those calls seriously. On Wednesday, the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Ramallah said that only 1.4 million people in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have been vaccinated out of a total population of over 5 million people. 736,000 adults in both areas got two shots of the vaccine.

In a bid to encourage mass inoculation, Hamas has come up with a number of campaigns and has even offered monetary compensation to those getting the vaccine.

Recently, Hamas has also announced that unvaccinated civil servants, who haven't been vaccinated, would not get a paid sick leave in case they contract the virus. But the question that begs to be answered is whether these measures will be enough to stop the spread of the virus.

© Sputnik



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