Posted on 14 January 2021

COVID-19 Emergency Situation Report 26 (31 December 2020 - 13 January 2021)

Highlights

  • Thirty-four per cent decline in active cases throughout the oPt.
  • Public health restrictions eased slightly in the West Bank and Gaza.
  • The Palestinian Authority (PA) secures provision of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine. 

14,334 168,652 1,814 93
Active cases Cumulative Cases Fatalities Patients in ICU

Situation Overview

The reporting period witnessed a 34 per cent decrease in active COVID-19 cases in the oPt, with 14,555 additional Palestinians testing positive, and 21,742 people recovering, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health (MoH). The cumulative number of cases is 168,652, with 152,504 people recovered from the virus. The number of patients in intensive care units (ICU) continues to decline from 127 by the end of the previous reporting period, to 93, including those requiring mechanical ventilation, from 30 to 25. 

A total of 314 people died, bringing to 1,814 the cumulative number of fatalities due to the virus, 1,352 in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and 462 in the Gaza Strip. The Case Fatality Rate (CFR), the proportion of deaths among confirmed cases, remains at approximately one per cent in the oPt, slightly above Israel (0.8), but lower than Jordan (1.3 per cent), and Egypt (5.5 per cent).

Gaza accounts for 51 per cent of all active cases in the oPt, followed in the West Bank by the Nablus governorate (9.7 per cent), the East Jerusalem area (8.4 per cent), and Ramallah governorate (7.4 per cent).

In response to the decrease in infections, the authorities in Gaza have eased certain public health restrictions.  In the West Bank, new lockdown regulations that entered into effect on 2 January will continue until 17 January, although compliance and enforcement have been limited. In Israel, restrictions have been tightened, with most schools and nonessential businesses closed, and the public instructed not to move beyond one kilometre from their homes, except for essential needs. These measures, which also apply to East Jerusalem, will continue until at least 21 January.

In order to gather data on the prevalence of COVID-19 in the oPt, and to provide guidance on prevention and control measures, the MoH is conducting a serological survey, targeting over 3,000 households in the West Bank and Gaza. This is part of an international study covering 55 countries, involving the collection of blood samples to test for COVID-19 antibodies, along with information on demographics, hospitalization history, and symptoms of acute illness since the outbreak started.

Vaccines

The PA will receive support through the Gavi COVAX AMC Facility for an allocation of COVID-19 vaccines to cover 20 per cent of the oPt population, targeting priority groups such as frontline health workers, the elderly, and those with underlying health conditions. The first allocation of approved vaccine batches is expected in early- to mid-2021. WHO and UNICEF are working with the MoH to finalize the national vaccine deployment plan, and to support implementation and monitoring. 

The PA plans to procure vaccines for an additional 40 per cent of the population from various manufacturers. The MoH has authorized the use of Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine under the emergency use authorization procedure. The Palestinian Authority will reportedly receive the first shipment within one month and delivery is expected to be complete by end April 2021.

Israel is continuing its vaccination programme, which is available to Palestinians in East Jerusalem, and currently ranks first globally for per capita vaccinations, with almost two million people already vaccinated: Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has pledged to vaccinate every Israeli over the age of 16 by the end of March 2020. A number of Israeli, Palestinian and international health and human rights organizations have called on the Israeli authorities to live up to their legal obligations and ensure that quality vaccines are also provided to Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. In bilateral meetings with the UN, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) has expressed its readiness to support vaccinations in both the West Bank (beyond East Jerusalem) and in Gaza, should an official request be forthcoming. On 12 January, the Israeli authorities reportedly announced that they had delivered a small batch of vaccines to the Palestinian authorities, as per their request, and that another batch would be delivered soon.

On 10 January, five Israeli human rights organizations petitioned the Israeli High Court of Justice against the decision by the Public Security Minister not to vaccinate prisoners, contrary to the Israeli Ministry of Health’s directive. The organizations demanded that the Prison Service vaccinate the entire prisoner population according to the vaccination priority set by the Ministry of Health, with an emphasis on prisoners aged 60 and over, and those in high-risk groups.

West Bank

The number of active cases in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, decreased by about 40 per cent in the reporting period (from 11,659 to 7,011). According to the MoH, active cases in Nablus governorate have declined to less than a hundred cases daily, with a significant decrease also noted in the southern West Bank, and the number of hospitalized cases stabilizing, after a sharp increase in the previous weeks.

On 2 January, Palestinian Prime Minister, Mohammed Shtayyeh, announced new regulations across the West Bank to take effect until 17 January. Classes from Grades 1 to 6, and Grade 12, have resume teaching following the blended education system. However, communities in Area C face challenges with distance learning due to the lack of electricity and telecommunication infrastructure.

A night curfew from 19:00 to 06:00, as well as a weekend lockdown, from Thursday 19:00 to Sunday 06:00, continues. Businesses, as well as government, civil and private institutions, are allowed to operate at a maximum of 30 per cent of their capacity. Travel between governorates is prohibited, except for the transportation of agricultural, service and food products. Weddings, condolence houses, festivals, gatherings and events remain strictly prohibited. However, public compliance with, and enforcement of these regulations has been limited across the West Bank, and almost totally absent in Area C, in remote villages, and in the H2 area of Hebron city. 

A local comprehensive lockdown until further notice has been imposed in Salfit city, and in the Salfit villages of Az Zawiya, Rafat, Kafr ad Dik, Iskaka and Haris. Ramin village in Tulkarm is under a three-day closure until 13 January. 

In East Jerusalem, although the vaccine has been available for doctors, medical staff and residents above 60, media reports indicate that only about 20 per cent of eligible East Jerusalem Palestinians have availed of the vaccine, compared to about 75 per cent among the equivalent groups in the Jewish population in the city.

The construction industry is excluded from the Israeli lock-down, and Palestinian workers can enter Israel on the condition they stay for two weeks inside Israel.   It is unclear if, and when, these workers will be eligible for vaccines. 

Citing the lack of building permits, during the reporting period, the Israeli authorities demolished or seized at least 29 Palestinian-owned structures in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, displacing at least 44 people, including 23 children. 

The largest incident took place in Beit Iksa Bedouin community (pop. 2,000), located on the Jerusalem side of the Barrier. Since 2016, the community is physically separated from the wider West Bank by a permanent checkpoint installed in the Barrier, limiting access to the village to residents and to Palestinians from nearby villages. On 7 January, the Israeli authorities seized ten structures in the community, including four provided as humanitarian assistance, displacing 27 Palestinian refugees, including 14 children. According to the affected people, the Israeli authorities provided no prior notice about their intention to seize the structures, a trend that has been on the rise in recent years. In 2020, 30 per cent of the structures targeted in Area C were seized without prior warning, up from 11 per cent in 2017 and eight per cent in 2016.

Gaza Strip

In Gaza, 6,657 new COVID-19 cases were recorded in the reporting period. However, the number of active cases declined by around 28 per cent (from 10,176 to 7,323). The cumulative caseload since the start of the pandemic has reached 46,524, the vast majority since the first cases of community transmission were reported in late August. One hundred and six (106) people died, bringing the overall death toll to 462. 

According to WHO, the total number of tests decreased from 14,757 between 27 December and 2 January 2021 to 13,486 between 3-9 January. This can be attributed to a decrease in the number of suspected cases and in the close contacts tested. The positivity rate is now about 20 per cent.  On 5 January, the health authorities reported enough COVID-19 tests until 20 January.

Of the active COVID-19 cases, approximately 1,400 people are currently being isolated in the two designated hospitals and in the nine designated isolation facilities, while another 6,000 people are in home isolation, according to the Ministry of Social Development (MoSD).  In addition, about 26,000 people are in home quarantine, the majority in the Gaza and Khan Younis governorates.

For an interactive map of isolation and quarantine facilities in Gaza see OCHA’S WEBSITE.

In light of the improved situation, local authorities have eased some restrictions. As 10 January, mosques can open from Sundays to Thursdays, provided that COVID-19 preventive measures are followed. All government and some private primary schools (Grades 1-6) re-opened on 13 January, with each pupil spending two days a week at the school and the other three days at home. The night curfew and weekend curfews remain in place, with slightly shortened hours. Large gatherings, including weddings and funerals, continue to be prohibited. The authorities have also designated 60 out of the 96 geographic areas in Gaza as ‘red’, where no movement is allowed. 

Since November, people entering Gaza through the Rafah or Erez crossings, including international staff/foreign delegations, are not required to undergo home quarantine, if they can present a negative PCR test result taken within 48 hours prior to entry. Those unable to present the test result on arrival can be tested at the border, but they are required to undergo home quarantine until the results are issued. 

The Rafah Crossing with Egypt remains closed for pedestrian traffic. The entry of goods continued from Israel through the Kerem Shalom Crossing, as did imports from Egypt via the Rafah Crossing. The Erez passenger crossing with Israel has continued to allow the exit of a small number of exceptional cases, mostly medical patients. The number of Palestinians entering Gaza through Erez has been consistent, at approximately 250 people per week.

Coordination

The Inter-Agency COVID-19 Task Force, led by the interim Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator (RC/HC), as well as the sub national Inter-Cluster Coordination Group (ICCG), continues to convene regularly, to set policies and coordinate the implementation of various responses to the crisis. 

During the reporting period, the RC/HC’s Access and Coordination Unit (ACU) facilitated the movement of 85 UN and international NGO staff, and one diplomatic mission, between East Jerusalem and the remainder of the West Bank, in addition to 12 trucks with medical, education and other vital equipment. Due to the continuing restrictions in the Gaza Strip, the ACU coordinated 52 critical UN missions with the local authorities, in addition to facilitating a total of six UN and diplomatic missions into and out of Gaza. The ACU also facilitated the entry into Israel of 36 international NGO staff members and their dependents, after negotiating with the relevant Israeli authorities to lift the recently imposed prohibition on the entry and re-entry of INGO staff into the country, due to tightened public health restrictions in Israel.

The Health Cluster is tracking the procurement and delivery of critical medical supplies by cluster partners against the immediate needs identified in the COVID-19 Inter-Agency Response Plan, in line with the State of Palestine’s National Response Plan. The table below highlights the availability and gaps regarding the top ten medical items needed.  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 WHO’s global COVID-19 response coordination portal.

The Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE) campaign continues to target media outlets in COVID-19 hotspots to encourage people to follow protective measures. The RCCE Task Force, led by the MoH, WHO and UNICEF, is developing a social mobilization and engagement strategy/demand plan and information awareness programme (including advocacy, communications, social mobilization, risk and safety communications, community engagement, and training) to generate confidence, acceptance and demand for COVID-19 vaccines in the oPt, once they become available. RCCE materials are available online.

Supply Category Medical item Estimated

Response Plan

needs (by unit)
Delivered Pipeline/procured Current Gap
  Case Management   Ventilator, medical, invasive, adult/child 250 105 125 20
Patient Monitor (vital signs) 250 130 164 (44)
Oxygen Concentrator 250 59 134 57
ICU Hospital Beds 250 87 79 84
Patient Beds 400 86 264 50
Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) Surgical Mask 4,000,000 2,080,750  354,050 1,565,200
N-95 Respirator 300,000 297,624  68,380  (66,004)
Surgical gloves 8,000,000 5,796,323 1,699,022 504,655
Laboratory Testing COVID-19 PCR Tests 500,000 205,344 9,600 285,056
Swabs / Medium, sample collection 500,000 241,500 20,100 238,400

Funding

The COVID-19 Inter-Agency Response Plan for the oPt, which included interventions to be implemented until the end of 2020, has raised a total of to $45.9 million, or 59 per cent of the requirement. Including resources outside the Plan, $65.5 million have been mobilized in support of the COVID-19 response.

Responses to COVID-19 related needs during 2021 have been mainstreamed in virtually all humanitarian activities planned for the year and included in the 2021 Humanitarian Response Plan for the oPt. The Plan appeals for $417 million in order to deliver urgent assistance to 1.8 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

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

Developments, concerns and funding status by cluster

Health

US$37,054,992 $18,808,493    51% US$ 10,735,602 US$ 29,544,095 
Funding requirements Through the Response Plan of the Response Plan covered Outside Response plan Total Funding Received
  • Health Cluster partners delivered critical COVID-19 medical equipment and supplies to multiple facilities across the oPt. Partners procured and delivered a Real-Time PCR machine used for detecting COVID-19, 55 COVID-19 testing kits, 30 extraction kits, 50 TNI SoftFlow used to treat respiratory symptoms of patients with COVID-19 and 50 patient monitors. Additional equipment included 19 oxygen concentrator and 230 pulse oximeters, six defibrillators, 11 infusion pumps and 3,380 packs of surgical gloves. 
  • During the reporting period, nearly 186,000 people, including over 4,500 health workers, benefitted from interventions by Health Cluster partners to ensure that vulnerable communities have uninterrupted access to primary healthcare, maternal and child health and nutrition.

Protection

US$ 2,365,740 US$ 1,917,434 81% US$ 305,434 US$ 2,222,868
Funding requirements Through the Response Plan of the Response Plan covered Outside Response plan Total Funding Received
  • Nearly 60 per cent of families in home quarantine in Gaza reported that at least one family member showed symptoms of psychological distress. This is one of the findings of a rapid multi-sectoral assessment of people and families in home quarantine in Gaza, that was conducted between 8 and 20 November. Over 80 per cent of the respondents did not know where to receive psychosocial support, highlighting the need to disseminate information on available services among families in quarantine.
  • During the reporting period, cluster partners across the oPt reached over 1,500 people with Mental Health and Psycho-Social Support Services (MHPSS) through in-person and remote modalities. In the Gaza Strip, 22 children benefitted from specialized case management support provided through remote services. In addition, 271 people participated in remote awareness-raising sessions on child protection and MHPSS issues.
  • A significant increase in Gender-Based Violence (GBV) cases was reported between 9 December and 5 January. A GBV sub-cluster partner provided 278 phone consultations, including 170 related to GBV: the three most prevalent forms of GBV were physical violence (58 cases); psychological violence (28 cases); and verbal violence (59 cases). These are the highest figures since September 2020, and around 50 per cent higher compared with last month.

Education

US$ 7,120,698     US$ 1,517,000 21% US$ 1,918,746 US$ 3,435,746
Funding requirements Through the Response Plan of the Response Plan covered Outside Response plan Total Funding Received

 

  • On 10 January, schools re-opened in the West Bank for Grades 1 to 5 as well as for Grade 12 students: the intention is to re-open schools for all grades on 24 January. In Gaza, all public schools are scheduled to re-open for students in grades 1 to 6 on 13 January, while UNRWA schools are continuing with distance learning.
  • The Education Cluster is working with the MoE and UNRWA to support the delivery of distance learning, MHPSS, Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) measures and the provision of hygiene kits and rehabilitation of WASH facilities. The MoE in Gaza and Ramallah has renewed requests for hygiene and cleaning materials for 2021.

 

Shelter & NFI

US$ 4,092,551 US$ 1,755,251 43% US$ 2,767,382 US$ 4,522,633
Funding requirements Through the Response Plan of the Response Plan covered Outside Response plan Total Funding Received
  • In the Gaza Strip, Shelter Cluster partners provided Non-Food items (NFIs) to all active quarantine/isolation facilities. These included bedding sets, individual hygiene kits and dignity kits based on the needs identified by the Ministry of Social Development (MOSD) and local committees. Efforts are also ongoing to provide COVID-19 family hygiene kits and disinfection materials to vulnerable families in home quarantine.
  • In the West Bank, Cluster partners continue to provide essential NFIs and hygiene kits to families suffering from overcrowding, unhygienic or otherwise inadequate living conditions, particularly in Area C.

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene

US$ 9,504,052 US$ 9,648,114  102% US$ 2,090,348  US$ 11,738,462
Funding requirements Through the Response Plan of the Response Plan covered Outside Response plan Total Funding Received
  • During the reporting period, WASH Cluster partners reached about 85,000 people across the oPt. In the Gaza Strip, this included the delivery of over 35,600 bottles of water for 1,900 people in isolation centres, in addition to hygiene materials for nearly 2,500 families in home isolation and the rehabilitation of handwashing facilities for 150 vulnerable households. In the West Bank, 300 families were provided with hygiene kits, while 77 families received mobile latrines. WASH Partners also conducted training sessions in 13 isolation centres in the West Bank, covering infectious waste collection, handling and disposal.
  • In the Gaza Strip, cluster partners delivered disinfection materials and tools to WASH service providers. This has allowed these service providers to apply the recommended measures and ensure maximum protection while maintaining their services during the pandemic. These interventions were conducted in coordination with the Palestinian Water Authority and Costal Municipality Water Utility.

Food Security

US$ 18,017,577 US$ 12,206,392  68% US$ 1,777,441 US$ 13,983,833 
Funding requirements Through the Response Plan of the Response Plan covered Outside Response plan Total Funding Received
  • Over 40 per cent of Palestinian households reduced their food expenditure during the first COVID-19 lockdown in March-May 2020, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS). About 29 per cent of households indicated that cash transfer programmes are the most desirable measures and procedures the government should undertake in such times of crisis, with job opportunity and employment programmes, 21 per cent, and food parcels and procurement coupons, 19% per cent.

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 7,120,698 1,517,000  21%  1,918,746  3,435,746 
Food Security 18,017,577 12,206,392 68% 1,777,441 13,983,833
Health 37,054,992 18,808,493 51% 10,735,602  29,544,095 
Protection 2,365,740  1,917,434  81%  305,434  2,222,868 
Shelter & NFI 4,092,551  1,755,251  43% 2,767,382 4,522,633 
WASH 9,504,052  9,648,114  102%  2,090,348  11,738,462 
Total 78,155,610  45,852,683  59% 19,594,953  65,447,636

Total funding for COVID-19 response by donors

Donors

Through the Response Plan

Outside the Response Plan

Total in US$

Austria

  

229,564

229,564

Canada

2,215,757

  

2,215,757

CERF

527,000

 

527,000

DFID

1,423,772

 

1,423,772

ECHO

3,720,950

6,491,0001

10,211,950

Education Cannot Wait

555,000

1,550,000

2,105,000

Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA)

225,000

 

225,000

France

1,005,415

610,000

1,005,415

Germany

4,878,042

43,000

4,921,042
Ireland (Irish Aid) 235,200

 

235,200

Islamic Relief Worldwide

307,800

 

307,800

Italian Agency for Development Cooperation [AICS]

640,008 65,970 705,978

Japan

878,506

 

878,506

Kuwait

747,500

8,252,500

9,000,000

Norway

70,000

91,083

161,083

OPT Humanitarian Fund2

16,425,925 356,568 16,782,493

Other sources3

1,558,588 275,155 1,833,743

Private Sector Fundraising

386,786

 

386,786

Qatar Fund for Development

 

562,455

562,455

Qatar Red Crescent

 

410,000

410,000

Save the Children4

326,435

 

326,435

Start fund

251,000

 

251,000

Sweden (SIDA)

500,000

 

500,000

Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation “SDC”

1,450,000

268,000

1,718,000

UNFPA Humanitarian Thematic Fund

332,000

 

332,000

UNICEF

792,000

 

792,000

USAID

314,000

 

250,000

War Child Holland5

252,000

85,000

337,000

WFP (loan)

5,000,000

 

5,000,000

  834,000   834,000

World Vision International

 

304,658

304,658

Grand Total

$45,852,683 $19,594,953 $65,447,636

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

2 As of today, oPt Humanitarian Fund has received generous contributions from Germany ($13.8m), Belgium ($4.3m), Switzerland ($4.2m), Sweden ($3.2m), Finland ($1.2m), Norway ($0.9m), Spain ($0.7m), Italy ($0.6m), Iceland ($0.4m), Ireland ($0.3m), Korea ($0.3m), Cyprus ($12,500), United Nations Foundation ($3,461).

3 Funding contributions below $150,000 including funding towards and outside Covid-19 Response Plan, received from: Action Aid, AECID, African Women Development Fund, AICS, Ana-GEGHT, Cantabria 19, Care International Emergency Fund, Christian Aid&ACPP, Denmark, DRO, EIHDR, Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), Fridresh Nauman Foundation, Gazze Destek (GDD), Global fund for women, Grass Roots, HEKS, Holland, ICO-UAE, International Charity Organisation, IR – Canada, IR – UK, Italy (IADC), Jerrahi Order of America, Kvinna Till Kvinna, Luxemburg government - ARDI Program, McNulty Foundation, Medico International, Mennonite Central Committee, Mixed funds (German, Italian, Spanish and Dutch), NCA, DCA, NMFA, Norwegian Representative Office to the Palestinian Authority, Nous Cims, NRC, Open Society Foundation, Oxfam, PHG, Private Donors, Rawa Funds, Representative Office of Switzerland in Ramallah, Secours Islamique France, SIDA+DFAT, StartNetwork, Suisse Cooperation, Trocare, UN Trust Fund, UNDP, United Palestinian Appeal, UNWOMEN HQ, Urgent Action Fund, WELFARE (Taawon), WHO, World Vision USA.

4 This includes contributions of Save the Children individual and pooled funds. 

5 This includes contributions of War Child Holland and War Child Holland Head Office

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] For a more comprehensive list, please contact the Health Cluster Coordination Team: [email protected] and [email protected]