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Gazans fear deteriorating health situation amid Delta variant spread


As the Gaza Strip witnesses an increase in the number of cases of COVID-19 infections, the Health Ministry there is seeking to raise the percentage of vaccination in the hope of achieving herd immunity.

The Palestinian coastal enclave has been witnessing for weeks a significant increase in the number of cases of COVID-19 infections, Gaza-based medical officials said.

There are more than 255 critical cases of the Delta strain across the Gaza Strip, and the majority of those cases are young people and pregnant women, according to officials.

Rana al-Namrouti, a 39-year-old pregnant woman, is one of those patients in a critical condition and she was transferred to the intensive care unit in the European Gaza Hospital for weeks after her health condition deteriorated.

The mother of four told Xinhua that her infection with the new strain of the virus caused severe complications that put her in a coma that lasted 25 days.

Connected to a ventilator, she can hardly talk, but she explained that her severe infection caused two clots in the lungs and feet, in addition to stomach bleeding. She recalled what happened to her was "in a state of death and came back to life."

A medical worker prepares a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine during a vaccination campaign in Gaza City, on Sept. 23, 2021.(Photo by Rizek Abdeljawad/Xinhua)

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Yousef al-Akkad, director of the European Gaza Hospital, told Xinhua that "the weakness of the Gazan health system caused by the 14-year Israeli blockade is a major dilemma in facing the spread of the new strain and the increasing number of injuries in hospitals."

"Inside the hospital, there are 109 cases of coronavirus out of the designated 150 that we can receive," he said, adding that "the existing cases are classified as critical and dangerous and in need of support for various artificial respirators."

A medical worker works at a testing lab for COVID-19 at Al-Rimal Clinic in Gaza City, on Sept. 23, 2021. (Photo by Rizek Abdeljawad/Xinhua)

He noted that the hospital has started preparing the fourth section in light of the high epidemiological trend in the sector, expressing his hope that the coming days will witness a flattening of the curve and then a return to decline and refraction.

Despite his optimism, the population's preventative measures are still absent in the Strip. Yet, the Hamas-run government in Gaza said they will not resort to closure unless necessary or unless the health system collapses, according to Salama Maarouf, the government's spokesman.

Maarouf said that medical and technical indicators say that the peak of the current wave is from the middle to the end of September. So by the end of this month, the number of infected, including critical cases, is expected to decrease.

Meanwhile, the Health Ministry in Gaza is seeking to raise the percentage of people vaccinated to 70 percent, in the hope of achieving herd immunity.

Ashraf al-Qedra, a spokesman of the ministry, told Xinhua that the percentage of those vaccinated increased from 10 to 35 percent after authorities organized a vaccination campaign with financial rewards.

The vaccinations were taken in sports clubs, local institutions, and universities. It also allocated 40 field medical teams to visit population facilities to facilitate access to them.

Earlier on Thursday, the Health Ministry reported 1,534 new cases infected with the new virus, raising the total number to 160,733 cases. In addition, eight fatalities were recorded, increasing the total number of deaths in Gaza to 1,319.

A Palestinian man receives a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine during a vaccination campaign in Gaza City, on Sept. 23, 2021. (Photo by Rizek Abdeljawad/Xinhua)

Published : September 24, 2021