- Title: Gaza gravediggers and medics stretched as COVID spikes during Ramadan
- Date: 22nd April 2021
- Summary: GAZA CITY, GAZA (APRIL 20, 2021) (REUTERS) 30-YEAR-OLD GRAVE DIGGER FROM GAZA, MOHAMMAD AL-HARESH DIGGING GRAVE AL-HARESH LEVELING THE BOTTOM OF THE GRAVE AL-HARESH PICKING UP DIRT WITH HIS BARE HANDS FROM GRAVE VARIOUS OF PEOPLE IN THE CEMETERY PRAYING INFRONT OF A BODY INSIDE AMBULANCE MEN BURYING A PERSON WHO DIED AFTER CONTRACTING THE CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) MAN BEING BURIED MEN USING SHOVELS TO COVER THE GRAVE AL-HARASH DIGGING GRAVE (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) 30-YEAR-OLD GRAVE DIGGER FROM GAZA, ,MOHAMMAD AL-HARESH, KNEELING DOWN IN A GRAVE, SAYING: "Previously there used to be one or two funerals a day, and some days none, but recently, and during the past month until today, the cases increased. Now we have around 10 a day, 8 a day. Today we had 8 cases, and God knows, they will increase as we go. They bring them (the bodies) at noon, at sunset, and even at night, and its now forbidden (to postpone burial). Once they die they bring them here on the spot, and its not like before, when the burial would take place the day after or two days after. Recently the percentage of cases has increased in an abnormal way, and all of which are due to corona(virus)." GAZA CITY, GAZA (RECENT) (REUTERS) (MUTE) DRONE FOOTAGE OF CEMETERY DURING A CORONAVIRUS DEATH BURIAL GAZA CITY, GAZA (APRIL 20, 2021) (REUTERS) MARKETPLACE FILLED WITH PEOPLE VARIOUS OF PEOPLE IN THE MARKETPLACE MAN WEARING FACE MASK WALKING IN THE MARKETPLACE (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) 33-YEAR-OLD KARAM HARB, SAYING: "Honestly, I see it is not enough, it should be a full lockdown. Because of the spread of corona(virus) and the high number of infections, I wish they would impose a full lockdown for 14 days for example, just like the West Bank, I think this is better." VARIOUS OF PEOPLE WALKING IN THE MARKETPLACE, SOME WEARING FACE MASKS (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) 35-YEAR-OLD, HATEM SILMI SAYING: "Since this is a fatal virus and can kill loved ones, relatives and seniors, therefore I ask the government to impose restrictions, and a full lockdown, because it will stop the quick spread of the virus, and restrict those who flout guidelines." MINISTRY OF INTERIOR SPOKESPERSON, EYAD AL-BOZOM SITTING IN HIS OFFICE THE PALESTINIAN MINISTRY OF INTERIOR EMBLEM (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) GAZA INTERIOR MINISTRY SPOKESPERSON, EYAD AL-BOZOM, SAYING: "We are currently going through measures of partial lockdown in the Gaza strip, we are undertaking these measures according to the developments of the pandemic. We may impose additional measures, but we do not expect at this phase to go into a full lockdown." KHAN YOUNIS, GAZA (APRIL 20, 2021) (REUTERS) HEALTH WORKER INJECTING MAN WITH VACCINE AT THE HOSPITAL HEALTH WORKER FILLING SYRINGE WITH VACCINE HEALTH WORKER INJECTING MAN WITH VACCINE IN HIS UPPER ARM MEN WAITING IN WAITING HALL AT THE HOSPITAL VARIOUS HEALTH WORKERS FILLING OUT FORMS (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) QASEM ABDUL GHAFOOR, GAZA RESIDENT WHO RECEIVED A VACCINE, SAYING: "I came to get vaccinated, because the situation is horrific in the Gaza Strip, youth are dropping dead in the streets. I used to take this lightly but I came running to get the vaccine, to protect my children, my people, my neighbours, and to protect myself, because the situation here is horrific, we took it lightly before, but I assure you, it shouldn't be taken lightly." GAZA CITY, GAZA (APRIL 20, 2021) (REUTERS) (NIGHT SHOTS) RAMADAN DECORATIVE LIGHTS SHINING IN STREETS RAMADAN LANTERN AND CRESCENT LIT UP, PEOPLE TAKING PICTURES AL-HASNA MOSQUE IN GAZA LIT AT NIGHT, RECITALS OF KORAN HEARD FROM MOSQUE MAN WALKING UP TO MOSQUE FOR TARAWEEH PRAYERS (RAMADAN NIGHT PRAYERS) AT NIGHT MEN INSIDE MOSQUE PRAYING TARAWEEH PRAYERS MAN WEARING FACE MASK PRAYING MEN AT MOSQUE PRAYING, FEW WEARING MASKS (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) 43-YEAR-OLD MAN WHO CAME TO PRAY, JAMEEL AL-JOUJOU, SAYING: "This rise in the number of the infected is making us very anxious, and we in the Gaza strip are two million people in a densely populated small place. We are anxious about the well-being of our children and our elders." MEN PRAYING OUTSIDE THE MOSQUE ON THE GRASS
- Embargoed: 6th May 2021 07:26
- Keywords: Drone Gaza coronavirus lockdown spike vaccination
- Location: KHAN YOUNIS AND GAZA CITY, GAZA
- City: KHAN YOUNIS AND GAZA CITY, GAZA
- Country: Palestinian Territories
- Topics: Health/Medicine,Middle East
- Reuters ID: LVA001E9LSFUV
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:The sick and dying are rapidly pushing Gaza's hospitals close to capacity amid a surge in COVID-19 cases in the impoverished Palestinian territory, health officials said.
Palestinians fear a combination of poverty, medical shortages, vaccine scepticism, poor COVID-19 data and mass gatherings during Ramadan could accelerate the increase, which began before the start of the Muslim holy month on April 13.
Gaza health officials said around 70% of intensive care unit beds were occupied, up from 37% at the end of March. There were 86 deaths over the past six days, an increase of 43% over the week before.
"The hospitals are almost at full capacity. They're not quite there yet, but severe and critical cases have increased significantly in the last three weeks, which is a concern," said Dr Ayadil Saparbekov, head of the World Health Organization's Health Emergencies Team in the Palestinian Territories.
Gaza's daily positivity rate reached as high as 43% this week, although Saparbekov said that number could be inflated because a shortage of tests meant they were mostly given to people already showing symptoms.
Saparbekov also said Gaza does not have the capacity to identify highly infectious COVID-19 variants when testing, meaning there is little data on them.
Graveyards are also feeling the strain. In Gaza City, gravedigger Mohammad al-Haresh told Reuters he had been burying up to 10 COVID-19 victims per day, up from one or two a month ago.
Densely populated and home to 2 million Palestinians, Gaza has for years had limited access to the outside world because of a blockade led by Israel and supported by Egypt.
Both countries cite security concerns over Hamas, the Islamist militant group that controls the Gaza Strip, saying they want to stop money and weapons entering.
Palestinians say the blockade amounts to collective punishment and that it has crippled Gaza's economy and medical infrastructure, with shortages of critical supplies and equipment hampering their ability to tackle the pandemic.
The situation in Gaza is a stark contrast to Israel, where a world-beating vaccination rollout has led to more than 53% of Israelis being fully vaccinated.
Amid growing concern, Hamas will on Thursday begin a week of nightly curfews, shutting down mosques that host hundreds of worshippers for Ramadan evening prayers.
But with around 49% of Gazans unemployed and parliamentary elections slated for May 22, Hamas has held back from more drastic measures that could further damage the economy.
"We are currently going through measures of partial lockdown in the Gaza strip, we are undertaking these measures according to the developments of the pandemic." Hamas spokesman Eyad Al-Bozom said.
Health officials say the factors that led to the current spike include the flouting of guidelines for mask-wearing and social distancing and the opening in February of Gaza's border with Egypt, which may have allowed in new variants.
Suspicion of vaccines also runs deep. A majority of Gazans - 54.2% - said they would not take the vaccine, against 30.5% who said they would and 15.3% who were undecided, according to an April 21 survey by the Jerusalem Media and Communications Center.
Just 34,287 people have been vaccinated, even though the enclave has received 109,600 doses since February donated by Russia, the United Arab Emirates and the global COVAX programme.
"(The) reluctance of many, including medical staff, to be vaccinated remains a key concern," the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in an April 12 report.
One Palestinian eligible for Gaza's initial round of vaccines, Qasem Abdul Ghafoor, said he decided to get the jab to protect himself and his family.
(Production: Mohammed Salem, Fadi Shana, Bassam Massoud, Mohammed Shana, Mustafa abu Ganeyeh, Rami Ayyub, Nuha Sharaf)
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