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100 new virus cases recorded in Gaza

The Gaza Strip records 100 new coronavirus cases today, raising the number of active infections detected outside quarantine centers to 1,588, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry.

For seven months, Gaza managed to fend off the coronavirus by subjecting new arrivals to strict quarantine procedures and intensive testing. The coastal enclave’s first coronavirus cases were detected around three weeks ago.

Hamas health officials have warned that Gaza’s fragile health infrastructure cannot handle more than 2,000 active cases. As of two weeks ago, the Strip had only 87 ventilators available for its 1.8 million residents.

At the same time, even as cases climb, Gaza’s Interior Ministry is loosening restrictions. Some shops are going back to work, as well as universities. Some areas are being permitted to follow a nightly curfew rather than a 24-hour curfew.

“There is a great difference between simply loosening the curfew and a return to normal life,” Hamas Interior Ministry spokesperson Iyad al-Bazm says, while warning that if Gazans continue to violate the restrictions it could lead to “an large increase in deaths.”

Al-Bazm acknowledges reports of Gazans disobeying the restrictions against movement and gatherings, and says that Hamas is increasing the penalties for violations.

Fifteen Gazans have died from coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic.

Aaron Boxerman

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