by Alice Rothchild, MD
We’re pleased to repost this weekly report by JWE board member Alice Rothchild, MD, which was earlier posted by the Jewish Voice for Peace Health Advisory Council (JVP-HAC).
This resource will be updated regularly to provide a full picture of the unfolding pandemic and the medical, political and economic ramifications in real time.
Please note that Coronavirus cases are an underestimate given the lack of testing, resources, and asymptomatic carriers. We recognize that in resource poor areas just as Gaza and the West Bank, these numbers are a major underrepresentation and fail to reflect the impact of the pandemic on these populations.
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As of May 8 the numbers of Coronavirus cases (as best I can figure out) in the region:
West Bank 225,645 (includes 28,841 in East Jerusalem *) The EJ number has remained unchanged for three weeks, doubt this is accurate, trying to sort this out.
As of May 1 the numbers of Coronavirus cases (as best I can figure out) in the region:
West Bank 224,037 (includes 28,841 in East Jerusalem *)
As of April 24 the numbers of Coronavirus cases (as best I can figure out) in the region:
West Bank 221,432 (includes 28,841 in East Jerusalem)
An excellent review of how Israel’s policies of medical apartheid affect the pandemic, and vaccine availability and distribution. JVP HAC is cited as a source of info.
Discussion of the global pandemic treaty by the European Council, endorsed by more than 25 heads of state and the WHO Director-General. They argue that it should focus on reducing the risk of pathogens jumping from animals to humans. This focus on “deep prevention” could draw inspiration from the global governance of nuclear, environmental, and financial systemic risks. Lessons from these domains suggest that far more can be done to reduce the risk of disease outbreaks, and that international law remains underused.
May 2 Israel
Israel reported just 13 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, the lowest number in over a year.
May 2 Occupied territories & Israel
Israel’s vaccine data is impressive, but it will pay a hefty price for not vaccinating West Bank Palestinians – living under its control – against coronavirus. Pfizer just signed its first 2022 government agreement with Israel to supply millions of doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine with the option to purchase millions of additional doses. Sharpening the tension is the fact that Israel is the most vaccinated country in the world. 62% of its population is vaccinated, including 90% of the at-risk population. As a result, Israel has been almost completely unburdened of coronavirus restrictions for several weeks now.
In contrast, only 3.3% percent of the occupied Palestinian population has been vaccinated. In recent weeks, Palestinians have been afflicted by a large wave of infections and mortality. The epidemic is raging throughout the West Bank and Gaza, in a reality of poor infrastructure and scarce resources, despite a long list of restrictions on travel and gatherings as well as school closures. The issue of Israel’s obligation to vaccinate the Palestinians raises legal, moral and medical questions. To date, Israel has vaccinated only Palestinian workers with an Israeli work permit (110,000 workers), in order to safeguard public health inside Israel. As for Palestinians who don’t enter the country on a daily basis, Israel has remained silent.
The coronavirus is blind to borders and international law. Israel is not exactly an “island nation,” as it is often called, but a country that shares borders with the unvaccinated Palestinians, among whom the pandemic is rampant. In other words: While in Israel they talk day and night about the danger of coronavirus variants entering the country via Ben-Gurion Airport, the physical borders are neglected.
May 3 Gaza
Gaza is currently facing a worrying increase in the number of people with COVID-19. Between March and April, COVID-19 infections have risen at an extraordinary rate—driven by the more severe B.1.1.7 variant—from less than a thousand reported cases per week to more than a thousand reported each day. There has been an alarming increase in infections among health care workers in particular. Gaza’s second wave has already surpassed its first in severity and in the number of people infected, and hospitals are struggling to cope.
Doctors Without Borders
May 3 Israel
Israel has identified its first two cases of the Brazilian variant of coronavirus as well as the first case of the Chilean strain. All three cases were discovered through genetic sequencing in vaccinated Israelis who had recently returned from abroad. In recent weeks, Brazil and Chile have recorded record-high surges in COVID cases, prompting some countries to impose quarantine and travel restrictions on arrivals from the two South American nations.
Israeli orders restricting international travel to and from seven countries with high coronavirus infection rates went into effect, and will remain in place at least until May 16. The latest regulations also apply to vaccinated people – who over the past months, as Israel’s vaccination drive progressed and the country reopened – were largely exempt from most COVID-19 restrictions. Apart from special cases, requiring passengers to obtain permits in advance via the Health Ministry’s website, Israeli citizens and residents are barred from traveling to Ukraine, Brazil, Ethiopia, South Africa, India, Mexico and Turkey.
May 4 Israel
Israel’s Institute for Biological Research is considering restarting its ongoing clinical trial from the beginning on the COVID-19 vaccine that it is developing, in the hope of developing a version that is effective with a single dose. According to sources, it became apparent from the first and second phases of the clinical trials on the two-shot Israeli BriLife vaccine that it would be possible to forego the second shot if patients were given a higher dose in a single injection.
May 5 Israel
The Israeli Health Ministry announced that the validity of the Green Pass, a certificate granted upon full vaccination, will be extended until the end of 2021. The decision came with the easing of many COVID-19 restrictions in Israel, including limits on public gatherings.
The pandemic has dealt a particularly heavy blow to asylum-seekers who lost their jobs and are not entitled for government benefits. Asylum seekers and migrant worker’s aid requests have more than doubled in Tel Aviv during 2020, a report by the city’s aid and information center for migrant workers and refugees, Mesila, shows. The number of cases soared from 4,150 in 2019 to 9,869 in 2020 and requests for financial aid climbed by more than seven times from 916 in 2019 to 7,010 in 2020.
May 6 Occupied territories
Detailed graphics and info on pandemic, vaccines, coordination, access, and procurement.
A nearly 60% increase in active cases in Gaza; significant decline in the West Bank.
About 250,000 Palestinians have been vaccinated, (excluding East Jerusalem), with 170,000 receiving both doses.
Health partners are requesting an additional $36 million to respond to increased COVID-19 needs.
World Health Organization, Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Report 75, Issued May 6, 2021. Highlights:
- Infections in both the West Bank and Gaza continue to decline, raising hopes that the current waves are coming to an end – but hospitals in both areas stay busy
- Another 20,000 doses of the Sputnik V vaccine have arrived in oPt, a donation from the Russian Federation
May 7 Gaza
A personal reflection on survival during Ramadan among so much death in Gaza.
May 7 West Bank
To better serve the Palestine refugees hardest hit by access restrictions in the West Bank, UNRWA launched its first mobile clinic initiative eight years ago. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Agency established three mobile health clinics serving eleven remote Bedouin communities across the West Bank.
May 7 Occupied territories & Israel
- 838,850 Israelis tested positive for COVID-19; 831,387 recoveries; 6,374 deaths
- 329,228 Palestinians tested positive for COVID-19; 309,995 recoveries; 3,594 deaths
- Of Palestinians who tested positive,196,804 live in the West Bank, 103,583 live in Gaza, and 28,841 live in East Jerusalem
After months of a rugged surge in new COVID-19 cases in the West Bank and Gaza, a declining rate of spread has finally emerged. This latest wave that began mid-February and saw the highest number of new confirmed cases and record positivity rates, was the West Bank’s third wave and Gaza’s second. Like past rounds of contagion, the upticks began after lockdown measures relaxed, which is again starting to take place in Gaza, where the positivity rate is still almost 30%, one of the highest in the world. The last week was also marked by a decrease by 20% of laboratory tests, owing to limited medical resources.
This week, night curfews in Gaza will end, along with allowing vehicular movement on the streets at all hours of the day. Mosques are once again allowed to hold prayers, fully opening just before the Eid holiday that culminates at the end of Ramadan, on May 12.
Thus far 193,127 Palestinians are fully vaccinated, around 4% of the total population. This figure includes 110,000 Palestinian workers who were vaccinated by Israel — some of whom were already eligible under Israel’s national program that extended to Palestinians from East Jerusalem, but most are workers from the West Bank with permits to enter Israel. Of those who have received both jabs, 38,168 live in Gaza.
Thanks to Trude Bennett.