A 77-year-old Palestinian woman succumbed to COVID-19 in the Gaza Strip on Saturday, becoming the Hamas-run territory’s first coronavirus death.
The woman, who suffered from other chronic health problems, entered Gaza from Egypt on Tuesday and was placed immediately in an isolation facility as is required of all arrivals, the Strip’s health ministry said.
She was named as Fadila Muhammad Abu Raida of the Khan Younis governorate.
The total number of infections in Gaza has remained at 55 after a considerable jump on Thursday, when 35 new cases were confirmed among arrivals from Egypt, all of whom were staying at quarantine facilities near the Rafah Crossing.
Thirty-nine of the total cases in the Strip are still active, according to the health ministry.
The number of confirmed COVID-19 in the Gaza Strip had remained below 20, with Gaza’s borders with both Israel and Egypt closed to prevent the spread of disease.
But in recent days, around 1,500 Palestinians who were stuck in Egypt were allowed to return via the Rafah crossing, while smaller numbers were permitted to enter from Israel.
Preventive measures put in place to contain the virus have been relaxed in recent weeks, with cafes and restaurants in Gaza allowed to reopen.
Khalil al-Hayya, a senior official with the Hamas terror group, which runs the enclave, told a press conference Thursday that authorities were considering imposing a curfew.
The border with Egypt would be re-sealed until at least the end of June, he added.
The United Nations has warned that a coronavirus outbreak in Gaza could be disastrous, given the high poverty rates and weak health system in the strip.
The number of cases in Palestinian areas of the West Bank remained at 368, according to the Palestinian Authority Health Ministry. There have been two COVID 19-related, Palestinian deaths in the West Bank since the start of the outbreak and two more in East Jerusalem.
AFP contributed to this report.