12-day-old Palestinian baby with heart problems dies of coronavirus in West Bank
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12-day-old Palestinian baby with heart problems dies of coronavirus in West Bank

Palestinian Authority Health Ministry says baby had initially tested negative for virus

A Palestinian medical staffer at the Dura hospital in the West Bank city of Dura near Hebron, on July 9, 2020. (Wisam Hashlamoun/FLASH90)
A Palestinian medical staffer at the Dura hospital in the West Bank city of Dura near Hebron, on July 9, 2020. (Wisam Hashlamoun/FLASH90)

The Palestinian Authority said Tuesday that a 12-day-old baby boy in the West Bank had died of the coronavirus, the youngest Palestinian victim of the disease.

The infant died in the town of Yatta, southwest of Hebron, the PA Health Ministry said. He had originally tested negative for coronavirus, but tested positive four days later, PA Health Ministry spokesperson Kamal al-Shakhra said.

He said that the baby had suffered from heart problems.

While the PA as a matter of policy does not identify coronavirus victims, Palestinian media reported that the infant was named Amir Shattat.

The death brought the number of Palestinians in PA territory who have died from COVID-19 to 42, with a further three Palestinians dying in Jerusalem. The PA includes East Jerusalem in its tallies, though the city remains under Israeli control.

Hebron and the surrounding area have become the epicenter of a renewed virus outbreak in the West Bank, which has recorded a total of 6,692 cases. Of those, 1,025 have recovered from the disease, according to PA figures. In Hebron, there have been 5,138 cases and 38 deaths, almost all of them over the past several weeks.

The Gaza Strip, which is under Hamas terror group control, has had 72 virus cases and one death since the start of the pandemic.

On Sunday, al-Shakhra told Palestine TV that a 6-year-old boy was being transferred to intensive care due to an acute coronavirus infection.

The virus appears to affect the elderly and infirm worst, while causing more mild symptoms in younger carriers. However, there have been a number of cases of children falling seriously ill from the virus, including deaths. The baby, who was not named in line with PA government policy, would be among the world’s youngest COVID-19 victims. On Sunday, authorities in India reported that an 8-day-old baby in Pune had died from the virus.

Family members of an imam at a local mosque perform Friday prayers on the rooftop of their house, after the Palestinian Authority shut down mosques due to the coronavirus pandemic, in the West Bank city of Hebron, on July 3, 2020. (Hazem Bader/AFP)

Despite 12 days of lockdown, the PA Health Ministry has continued to confirm hundreds of new cases every day. While the vast majority of active infections are still in Hebron area, new outbreaks seem to be spreading elsewhere in the West Bank, especially in the refugee camps around Ramallah.

On Sunday night the PA announced it was extending the lockdown for up to 19 days but hours later, following a backlash, said it would ease restrictions.

As cases mount the Palestinian Authority is suffering from a shortages of tests and ventilators. Laboratories in Hebron and Bethlehem are on the verge of closing due to a lack of available tests, said Palestinian health official Osama al-Najjar on Monday.

Aaron Boxerman contributed to this report.

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