Posted on 16 June 2020

COVID-19 Emergency Situation Report 11 (3 - 16 June 2020)

Highlights

  • 60 new COVID-19 cases recorded during the reporting period.
  • The number of people in home or facility-based quarantine declines significantly. 
  • Revised Inter-Agency Response Plan for COVID-19 crisis is 61 per cent funded. 

690 66,459 1,830 US$42 M
People with COVID-19 Samples tested for COVID-19 People in quarantine request for Inter-Agency Response Plan

Situation Overview

As of 16 June, 690 Palestinians, in total, are confirmed to have contracted COVID-19 in the oPt, with 60 new cases recorded in the reporting period. These include 184 cases in East Jerusalem,[1] a further 434 cases in the remainder of the West Bank, and 72 in the Gaza Strip. There are currently 115 active cases, with 570 cases recovered and five deaths reported since the start of the outbreak.

According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health (MoH), since the onset of the crisis, 66,469 laboratory samples have been tested. The cumulative number of Palestinians in quarantine since the onset is 96,150. However, the number of people in home or facility-based quarantine has dropped significantly, from almost 23,000 during the last reporting period, to just 1,830 by 13 June. 

The MoH and the humanitarian community continue to address critical gaps in laboratory supplies and other medical equipment, including life-saving ventilators and essential Intensive Care Unit (ICU) equipment. Despite the effective ending of the State of Emergency across the oPt at the end of May, the World Health Organization (WHO) continues to encourage people to adhere to the recommended measures, including physical distancing and personal hygiene measures, in light of reports of widespread public flouting of the regulations.

The movement restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic have drastically reduced domestic economic activity and external trade across the oPt, with Palestinian Authority (PA) monthly revenues declining to their lowest levels in at least two decades. This will have significant consequences for public welfare, employment, and the financial and fiscal stability of the PA itself; “without recourse to international borrowing or significant additional budget support from donors, the Palestinian Government will be forced to adopt severe austerity measures.”[2] According to the World Bank, the Palestinian economy is expected to decline by at least 7.6 per cent in 2020, and potentially as much as 11 per cent, in the case of a slower recovery or further restrictions imposed due to another outbreak.

West Bank

The majority of new cases in the West Bank have been reported in the Hebron governorate, including eight in Halhul and seven in Ad Dahriyya towns. On 8 June, a new case was registered in Shu’afat, a teacher in a primary school for girls, the first case to be reported in East Jerusalem in almost a month. Around 70 teachers and employees, in addition to 78 students, were placed in 14-day home quarantine, and the school was closed for 14 days.

In response to the recent increase in the number of confirmed cases, on 15 June, the Palestinian Prime Minister called on security forces, the Governors’ offices and Ministry of Health staff to increase inspections to ensure strict enforcement of public safety regulations, including physical distancing and the wearing of masks, and warned that violators will be penalized. The Ministry of Health also announced an expansion of random testing.

In East Jerusalem, COVID-19 cases continue to be managed by the East Jerusalem Hospital Network (EJHN) and Israeli hospitals. Access to the East Jerusalem hospitals has remained severely restricted since early March, with only emergency cases and cancer patients granted permits, which have negatively impacted the hospitals’ operational capacity and financial situation. Comparing the month of April 2020 to April 2019, the hospitals reported a 72 per cent decline in access for those holding West Bank IDs, and a 59 per cent decline for Gaza patients. The Health Cluster is still appealing to partners and the donor community to scale up support, so that the EJHN can continue to provide the specialized services unavailable elsewhere in the oPt.

The Allenby Bridge border crossing between Jordan and the West Bank was opened on 4 June, and again on 10 June, to allow for a total of 377 people to cross from Jordan to the West Bank. The PA has announced that in coordination with the Kingdom of Jordan, on 22 June, Allenby will be opened to allow for Palestinians from a variety of countries to return to the West Bank and to Gaza.

Israel’s occupation-related policies and practices also continued in the reporting period, with a marked rise in demolitions and related displacement, in particular. During the reporting period, citing the lack of building permits, the Israeli authorities demolished or seized 57 Palestinian-owned structures in Area C, displacing 67 and affecting 227 people. The self-demolition of three structures including one home was also recorded in East Jerusalem, displacing four people. More Palestinians have been displaced thus far in June 2020, than in any preceding full month this year.

Of continuing concern is settler violence, with physical attacks on Palestinian farmers and vandalism against Palestinian vehicles and olive trees, continuing during the reporting period.

Gaza Strip

In Gaza, the number of people in quarantine has also declined significantly. As of 15 June, 357 people are currently quarantined in seven operational centres, which include designated primary facilities and hotels, down from approximately 1,500 people in 14 centres in the previous reporting period. While preparing for another wave of Palestinians returning to Gaza, expected to take place in early July, the authorities indicate that the situation in the quarantine centres is stable, with no major gaps or immediate needs reported.  A total of 11,740 samples have been tested, including outside of Gaza.

On 7 June, the Palestinian authorities in Gaza began allowing Gaza-based international aid workers, identified as critical for the COVID-19 response, to return to Gaza on a case-by-case basis, provided that they adhere to strict safety regulations, including a mandatory 21-day home quarantine.

The authorities in Gaza have designated 10 dunums of land west of Deir Al Balah in the middle of the Gaza Strip, to construct a third quarantine facility, with a capacity of approximately 350 individual rooms. The objective is to have more facilities exclusively dedicated for quarantine purposes and to rely less on the use of private or public facilities, such as hotel and schools. They added that, from now on, hotels that will be vacated will be disinfected and handed back to their owners in anticipation of a possible reopening of hotels.

As part of arrangement between the Palestinian Authorities and Egypt to curb the spread of the virus, the Rafah Crossing between Gaza and Egypt has remained closed in both directions since 15 May. The movement of goods from Israel and Egypt has also continued as previously, including the entry of restricted (“dual use”) items via the Israeli-controlled Kerem Shalom Crossing.

Access in and out of Gaza via the Erez crossing, which has been extremely limited because of the pandemic, is compounded by the decision of the PA to suspend security coordination in response to Israel’s annexation announcement. The PA is no longer coordinating the exit of permit holders through Erez crossing, or receiving additional applications for exit permits, particularly impacting those seeking essential health care unavailable in the Gaza Strip.

Inter-Agency Response Plan

The revised version of the COVID-19 Inter-Agency Response Plan for the oPt which was released on 25 April, to support the efforts led by the Government of Palestine to contain the pandemic and mitigate its impact through the end of June 2020, requests $42.4 million to support an immediate response to the COVID19 crisis.

As of 15 June, $25.7 million, or 61 per cent of the amount requested in the Response Plan has been raised.  Including resources mobilized outside the Response Plan, a total of $43.3 million has been mobilized to support COVID-19-related response activities in the oPt.

During the reporting period, new funding was provided only to the WASH Cluster, with a contribution of $0.4 million from the Qatar Red Crescent Society. Local and international NGO’s managed to obtain additional funding from various sources amounting in total to $100,000.

Humanitarian partners still require additional support to address the full scale of needs vulnerable people across the oPt targeted by the Response Plan.

Total funding for COVID-19 response by cluster (in Million US$)

COVID-19 response funding in the oPt (through and outside the Inter-Agency Response Plan) in US$

Cluster Response Plan Requirements (US$) Through the Response Plan (US$) Percentage of the Plan covered Outside the Response Plan (US$) Total (US$)
Education  1,203,000 806,000 67% 1,765,000 2,571,000
Food Security 11,781,726  6,414,328 54% 1,738,155  8,152,483
Health 19,106,615  11,237,052 59%   9,563,147 20,800,199 
Protection  951,000  984,044 103% 252,863  1,236,907
Shelter & NFI  3,342,551  1,250,007 37%  2,698,500  3,948,507
WASH  6,055,240  5,002,327 83% 1,560,144 6,562,471
Total 42,440,132 25,693,757 61% 17,577,809 43,271,566

Total funding for COVID-19 response by donors

Donor Through the Response Plan Outside the Response Plan Total in US$
AECID 37,655 16,655 54,310
Austria    229,564  229,564
Canada 1,881,800   1,881,800
CERF 300,000   300,000
Denmark 34,440   34,440
DFID 1,100,000   1,100,000
ECHO 1,983,760 6,305,000* 8,288,760
Education Cannot Wait 555,000 1,550,000 2,105,000
EIHDR 22,000   22,000
Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) 112,500   112,500
Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) 225,000   225,000
France 827,815   827,815
Germany 1,698,298   1,698,298
GIZ 10,125 43,000 53,125
Holland 30,543   30,543
IR -Canada 50,000   50,000
IR -UK 25,000   25,000
Ireland (Irish Aid) 235,200   235,200
Islamic Relief Worldwide 91,400   91,400
Italian Agency for Development Cooperation [AICS] 152,008 10,970 162,978
Italy (IADC)   35,000 35,000
Japan 737,000   737,000
Jerrahi Order of America   40,000 40,000
Kuwait  747,500  8,252,500 9,000,000
NCA HQ, DCA  71,035   71,035
NMFA 21,500   21,500
Norway 70,000 91,083 161,083
Nous Cims 54,310   54,310
NRC 20,200   20,200
OPT Humanitarian Fund 6,458,521 38,363 6,496,884
Private Sector Fundraising 386,786   386,786
Qatar Red Crescent   410,000 410,000
Save the Children*** 59,955   59,955
Secours Islamique France 79,407   79,407
Start Fund - S 22,000   22,000
Start Network / Start Fund - COVID-19 100,000   100,000
Sweden (SIDA) 500,000   500,000
Swiss Agency for Development and 

Cooperation “SDC”
800,000 268,000 1,068,000
UNESCO    150,000  150,000
UNICEF 792,000   792,000
UNWOMEN HQ 50,000   50,000
War Child - Holland Head Office 45,000   45,000
War Child Holland 207,000 85,000 292,000
WFP (loan) 5,000,000   5,000,000
Other sources** 99,000 52,674 151,674
Grand Total 25,693,757 17,577,809 43,271,566

* Attribution to the Inter-Agency COVID-19 Response Plane under verification.

** Funding contributions below $20,000 including funding towards and outside Covid-19 Response Plan, received from: Action Aid, African Women Development Fund, Christian Aid, Global fund for women, Grass Roots, HEKS, International Charity Organisation, McNulty Foundation, Medico International, Mennonite Central Committee, Open Society Foundation, PHG, Representative Office of Switzerland in Ramallah, Save the Children pooled fund, UN Trust Fund, United Palestinian Appeal, WHO.

*** This includes contributions of Save the Children individual and pooled funds

Procurement of critical medical supplies by cluster partners

The Health Cluster continues to track the procurement and delivery of critical medical supplies by cluster partners against the immediate needs identified in the COVID-19 Inter-Agency Response Plan for the oPt. These needs are also in line with the State of Palestine’s National COVID-19 Response Plan, which was released by the Office of the Prime Minister on 26 March. 

As of 15 June 2020, gaps remain in procurement and the delivery of essential medical items for case management of critical COVID-19 cases, such as medical ventilators, pulse oxymeters and ICU beds.  There is also a need for personal protective equipment (PPE) to ensure the safety of frontline health workers, due to the very limited availability of these items on local and international markets. Health Cluster partners, including WHO and UNICEF, are working through the Global COVID-19 Supply Chain System to secure this vital equipment for the oPt.

The following tracker details the delivery of 10 selected key medical items only, as reported by Health Cluster partners in the oPt.  If you require a more detailed list, please contact the Health Cluster Coordination Team:asaparbekov@who.int and maroufm@who.int.  

For details of bilateral donations provided directly to the Ministry of Health and local health authorities, please refer to the PA Ministry of Health.

Medical item Needs “as identified in the response plan” Delivered Pipeline/procured Balance
Ventilator, medical, adult/child 150 20 91 39
Hospital Bed, for intensive care unit 150   96 54
Patient Monitor, vital signs 150 14 114 22
Oxygen concentrator, electric 150 15 80 55
Patient bed  300 80   220
Pulse oxymeter 200   200 0
Mask, surgical (box of 50) 20,000 9,637 5,225 5,138
Gloves, non-sterile (box of 100) 20,000 20,748 9,542 -10,290
Real-time PCR machine 3 1   2
COVID-19 testing kit (primers and probes): 96 tests each 200 198   2

Coordination

The Inter-Agency COVID-19 Task Force led by the Humanitarian/Resident Coordinator (HC/RC), as well as the Inter-Cluster Coordination Group (ICCG), continue meeting to follow up on the implementation of the Inter-Agency Response Plan.

As part of the Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE) plan, nearly 40 partners are distributing communications materials aimed at ensuring that the public has access to a broad range of information on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and to deal with misinformation as restrictions are eased by the respective authorities. The COVID-19 campaign generated almost 15 million content views on Facebook in the period between 19 March and 2 June, and disseminated six million text messages, as well as messages via radio channels, billboards and brochures. 

A new supply portal has been launched on WHO’s global COVID-19 response coordination platform to support procurement (see above). All partners are encouraged to subscribe and submit their requests for procurement of medical supplies for laboratory testing, case management and infection prevention and control through the portal.

Developments, concerns and funding status by cluster

Health

US$ 19,106,615 US$ 11,237,052 59% US$ 9,563,147 US$ 20,800,199
Funding requirements Through the Response Plan of the RP covered Outside Response plan Total Funding Received
  • Over 115,000 people have benefited from activities carried out by the Health Cluster during the reporting period. An estimated 18,000 frontline health workers benefitted from full personal protective equipment (PPE) items. Some 4,700 test kits were delivered to the Gaza Strip, while 40 health staff from ambulance services were trained in the management of suspected COVID-19 cases and infection prevention and control. Essential medical equipment, including patient monitors and syringe pumps were provided to treatment centres in the Gaza Strip. Partners continue to provide support to essential health services, with an estimated 5,000 people benefitting from maternal and child health and nutrition services and provision of essential drugs and contraceptives.
  • Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, East Jerusalem hospitals experienced a significant decline in demand for services, further undermining their financial situation. In April 2020, outpatient consultations declined by 72 per cent compared with April 2019; elective surgeries by 66 per cent; essential surgeries by 74 per cent; and chemotherapy sessions for cancer patients by 43 per cent. The Health Cluster calls on partners and the donor community to scale-up their support to East Jerusalem hospitals. 
  • The Palestinian Authority’s decision to suspend all coordination arrangements with the Israeli authorities, impede the procurement and delivery of essential items. This measure was adopted in response to Israel’s intention to annex parts of the West Bank to its territory.  
  • Restrictions imposed to contain the pandemic continue to pose operational challenges. Humanitarian staff are affected by restrictions on movement and lengthy quarantine requirements; many vulnerable groups, including pregnant and lactating women, are less likely to go for their routine appointments, out of fear of contamination and existing restrictions; restrictions on the entry of foreigners to the Gaza Strip impede the deployment of expertise for service delivery and training activities. Low adherence to essential public health measures, following the lifting of restrictions, is also leading to concerns of a second wave of COVID-19 cases.

Protection

US$ 951,000  US$ 984,044 103% US$ 252,863 US$ 1,236,907
Funding requirements Through the Response Plan of the RP covered Outside Response plan Total Funding Received
  • Following the removal of restrictions, GBV partners are resuming their activities to provide support for youths with mental health and psychosocial issues, especially for females that have been out of school since March. Safe spaces are opening; community meetings, individual/group counselling and capacity building for GBV survivors are resuming and legal services are being provided. 
  • In the West Bank, the removal of movement restrictions has reportedly increased feelings of anxiety and fear of contracting the virus. GBV partners are providing Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) workshops in villages for pregnant and lactating women with infants, including medical consultations to women and girls of reproductive age and COVID-19 awareness raising.
  • Cluster and MHPSS partners report a general lack of awareness of existing hotline services for psychosocial support in East Jerusalem, in spite of the availability of such services. Elsewhere in the West Bank partners have faced constraints in providing remote psychological support for some of the most critical cases, including people attempting suicide.
  • In the Gaza Strip, there is a need for further research on the impact of COVID-19 on mental health to enhance the referral system and cross-sectoral collaboration on specialized mental health interventions in order to provide a timely and efficient response.

Education

US$ 1,203,000 US$ 806,000 67% US$ 1,765,000 US$ 2,571,000
Funding requirements Through the Response Plan of the RP covered Outside Response plan Total Funding Received
  • Education Cluster partners continue to provide MHPSS to students, parents and teachers. Member of the MHPSS taskforce, supporting the MoE during the COVID-19 crisis, continue to provide remote services, while building the capacity of MoE counsellors. This support will continue throughout the summer, despite the academic year ending on 24 May. 
  • Education Cluster partners are working with the Ministry of Education (MoE) to ensure the protection of students who are taking the twelfth grade exams (Tawjihi). Since 30 May, approximately 78,000 students across the oPt have been sitting for the exams that will end on 17 June; 44,500 in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and 33,500 in the Gaza Strip. UNICEF has supported the printing and dissemination of infection and protection control materials, while a number of other partners are supporting the MoE in the disinfection of testing centres. 
  • The Education Cluster, together with the MoE and its donors, is developing a framework for the reopening of schools. The framework will build on UNICEF, UNESCO and World Bank guidelines for the reopening of schools. The framework will aim at identifying children at risk of dropping out; convince parents to prioritize their return to education; prepare teachers to help them catch up on their learning; and adjust the education system to cope with the new environment.

Shelter & NFI

US$ 3,342,551 US$ 1,250,007 37% US$ 2,698,500 US$ 3,948,507
Funding requirements Through the Response Plan of the RP covered Outside Response plan Total Funding Received
  • Shelter Cluster partners have continued to support vulnerable people in quarantine facilities and inadequate shelters in the Gaza Strip. Cluster partners provided non-food items (NFIs) to all active quarantine facilities in the Gaza Strip, including bedding sets, individual hygiene kits and dignity kits. Additionally, as temperatures rise, cluster partners are preparing for the provision of 800 fans to quarantine centres, before the return of additional people from Egypt, expected in early August. 
  • Cluster partners have completed the procurement of around 3,000 COVID-19 family hygiene kits for vulnerable households lacking proper hygiene facilities. The selection of beneficiaries is ongoing.
  • Additional support to be delivered to West Bank communities with new COVID-19 confirmed cases, including Halhul, Samou’ and Dahriyah in the Hebron governorate, and Azzun in Qalqiliya governorate. This includes cleaning and disinfestation materials and tools, and NFIs. Awareness messages and instructions on best practices, regarding confirmed cases and vulnerable people in home quarantine, are also needed. 

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene

US$ 6,055,240 US$ 5,002,327 83% US$ 1,560,144 US$ 6,562,471
Funding requirements Through the Response Plan of the RP covered Outside Response plan Total Funding Received
  • The WASH Cluster reached over 5,000 people during the reporting period. In the Gaza Strip, four partners delivered nearly 25,000 bottles of water to quarantine facilities; nearly 550 hygiene kits to vulnerable families; and desludged 21 cesspits and septic tanks. In the West Bank, two sanitized water coolers were delivered to health centres.
  • The Palestinian Water Authority (PWA) reported the suspension of all coordination and technical discussions with Israel. The suspension will decrease PWA staff and contractors’ outreach to the main water infrastructures in areas under Israeli security control in the West Bank, affecting the ability of the PWA to maintain and operate water supply systems. 
  • WASH early warning indicators in the Gaza Strip recorded a drop in water consumption (8 per cent), water production by desalination plants (13 per cent), and in the quality of wastewater flows into the sea (24 per cent).
  • Most of the solid waste service providers in the Gaza Strip report difficulties in maintaining their level of services. According to the WASH Cluster rapid assessment on solid waste in the Gaza Strip, around 50 per cent of the service providers face difficulties providing solid waste service to quarantine centres, 60 per cent to households, and 80 per cent for solid waste services in public places.

Food Security

US$ 11,781,726 US$ 6,414,328 54% US$ 1,738,155 US$ 8,152,483
Funding requirements Through the Response Plan of the RP covered Outside Response plan Total Funding Received
  • The Palestinian Authority is unable to pay workers, poor families and employees as a consequence of measures introduced in response to the Israeli government’s annexation plan. The PA cannot pay government employees’ salaries for May after refusing to accept tax monies collected on its behalf by Israel, which comprises 60 per cent of the PA’s budget.
  • Costs of production remain high, amidst a lack of crucial inputs. Producers reported a continuous increase in seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides prices, with some interrupting production as they cannot afford the cost of fertilizers. For the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, farmers reported improved access to fodder, although limited by higher prices and liquidity constraints.
  • Livestock sector. Most herders have continued to access central markets to sell dairy products.

For more information including a detailed list of activities by cluster in both Gaza and the West Bank and for detailed maps of the Quarantine Centres please visit the COVID 19 Webpage found on the OCHA Website.  Please go to the OCHA Website:

OCHA COVID-19 dedicated webpage

Detailed list of activities by cluster


[1] The situation in East Jerusalem regarding COVID‐19 is being managed by the Israeli authorities.

[2] UNSCO, Paper to the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, 2 June 2020, p. 6.