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Gaza sees highest COVID spike in months with over 1,000 new daily cases

Palestinian workers unload a truck from 20,000 doses of Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine upon its arrival to Gaza Strip, at the Rafah crossing border with Egypt, February 21, 2021. (Khalil Hamra/AP)
Palestinian workers unload a truck from 20,000 doses of Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine upon its arrival to Gaza Strip, at the Rafah crossing border with Egypt, February 21, 2021. (Khalil Hamra/AP)

Gaza’s health ministry says that more than a thousand cases of coronavirus were recorded over the previous day, the highest daily infection toll in several months.

The spike in the coastal Palestinian enclave, controlled by Hamas Islamists since 2007, stands in contrast to the slowdown in infections in Israel, which maintains a tight blockade on Gaza.

“The epidemiological situation in the Gaza Strip is dangerous,” says Magdy Dahir, deputy director of primary care at the Gaza health ministry. “There is a clear increase in hospitalizations.”

In Gaza, 65,500 people have been infected with the coronavirus and 610 deaths have been recorded since the start of the pandemic.

The Hamas-run government, which imposed a 9 p.m. (1800 GMT) curfew on Saturday to curb transmission, has ordered new restrictions on gatherings beginning Wednesday, the Gaza Hotels and Restaurants Association said.

The Palestinian health ministry announced that, as of Monday morning, more than 69,000 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza had received one dose of vaccine.

By contrast, more than half of Israel’s roughly 9.3 million residents have been inoculated with two Pfizer-BioNTech shots.

The latest daily increase in Israel was 442 cases, down from thousands of daily cases earlier in March.

Rights groups have called on Israel to supply vaccines to Palestinians. Israel has given a limited number of doses, but it says the Palestinian Authority is responsible for the general vaccination campaign.

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