East Jerusalem recorded its first confirmed fatality from coronavirus on Saturday morning, with the death of a 78-year-old woman.
The victim from Issawiya was named locally as Nawal Abu Hummus.
She died at Jerusalem’s Shaare Tzedek Medical Center and was said to have suffered from preexisting health conditions.
The woman was one of seven fatalities announced by the Health Ministry, taking the death toll in Israel to 158.
According to the Israeli Health Ministry, dozens of cases of the virus have been recorded in East Jerusalem, where many residents live in densely populated neighborhoods and tight living quarters.
Authorities are also concerned about a spike in infections due to the upcoming monthlong Ramadan holiday, which starts in late April.
The Kan public broadcaster reported Thursday that some Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem were likely to be placed under lockdown, following an increase in infection rates. Kan said that Silwan and Ras al-Amud were among the neighborhoods facing closures.
The Arab Israeli communities of Deir al-Asad and Bi’ina became a “restricted area” on Saturday morning amid fears of a coronavirus outbreak in the area.
Two weeks ago the ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak, which has the country’s highest infection rate for a large community, was placed under strict lockdown, with residents only allowed to leave municipal boundaries to work in key industries or to receive medical care. Several Jerusalem ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods were put under lockdown on Sunday.
East Jerusalem hospital officials have expressed concerns about a possible increase in the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus, as medical authorities ramp up testing of Palestinians in the area.
But Israel Police closed down a makeshift coronavirus testing clinic in East Jerusalem because it was operating under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority, according to a report Wednesday.
The clinic was set up Tuesday next to a mosque in the Silwan neighborhood of the capital and carried out tests until the early evening, the Haaretz newspaper reported. However, later that night police arrived and arrested four people running the clinic.
The Public Security Ministry said in a statement: “All activity by the Palestinian Authority in Israeli territory that is not coordinated and approved by authorities is prohibited under law and the police must prevent it.”
Israel considers East Jerusalem its territory, though Palestinians want it as the capital of a future state. Though its residents are Palestinians, East Jerusalem is under the control of the Israeli government, which is responsible for providing them with services.
Medical authorities opened four testing stations in East Jerusalem late last week and have since — according to the Health Ministry — tested many Palestinian residents of the city for COVID-19.