Posted on 19 May 2020

COVID-19 Emergency Situation Report 9 (12 - 18 May 2020)

Highlights

  • 20 new COVID-19 cases; no new deaths recorded since 20 April. 
  • New movement restrictions to be imposed for the Eid al Fitr holiday. 
  • Revised Inter-Agency Response Plan for COVID-19 crisis is 54 per cent funded. 

567 43,343 18,298 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 19 May, 567 Palestinians in total are confirmed to have contracted COVID-19 in the oPt, with a total of 20 new cases recorded during  the reporting period. These include 179 in East Jerusalem,[1] a total of 368  in the remainder of the West Bank, and just 20 in the Gaza Strip. The number of active cases is 99, with 464 cases recovered and four deaths since the start of the epidemic. No deaths have been recorded since 20 April.

According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health (MoH), since the onset of the pandemic, 43,343 laboratory samples have been tested. Some 18,298 Palestinians are in quarantine at home, or in designated facilities for monitoring purposes. The cumulative number of Palestinians in quarantine since the onset is 68,348.    The Ministry of Health (MoH) and the humanitarian community continues to address critical gaps in supplies, including testing kits, personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators and essential Intensive Care Unit (ICU) equipment.

The State of Emergency across the oPt, originally declared on 5 March, is extended until early June. On 16 May, Palestinian Prime Minister, Mohammed Shtayyeh, declared that while all shops can still open only between 10:00 to 19:00, they will now also be allowed to open every day. However, for the Muslim Eid al Fitr holiday, 22 to 25 May, all movement will be banned between, and within, governorates, and all public and private facilities will close, except for pharmacies and bakeries. On 26 May, there will be a review of the situation, with the aim of restoring life to normal.

In both the West Bank and, particularly, the Gaza Strip, a decline in public observance of regulations is being reported, and WHO continues to encourage people to adhere to the recommended measures, including physical distancing and personal hygiene measures.

West Bank

The daily curfew from 19:00 until early the following morning, imposed by the PA since the beginning of Ramadan, continues, with a relaxation of the opening hours of stores.  Since 10 May, the Israeli authorities have allowed most shops in Israel to open, including in annexed East Jerusalem, provided that they adhere to safety regulations.  Restaurants, cafés and bars are still not permitted to open. The Waqf authorities have closed the Al Aqsa Mosque throughout the month of Ramadan: in recent years, the Israel authorities have relaxed certain permit regulations to allow West Bank ID holders to enter East Jerusalem on Fridays in Ramadan, with 320,000 permitted for Ramadan Friday prayers in 2019.

Thousands of Palestinian labourers are expected to return from Israel later this week for the duration of the Eid al Fitr holiday. The Ministries of Health, Labour and Civil Affairs Authority will register and monitor the intake and conduct the necessary tests and medical procedures. Five people from a village in the southern West Bank, newly confirmed with COVID-19, are reported to belong to the family of a worker who returned from Israel, and did not follow the quarantine instructions.  All the entrances of the village have been closed until further notice. The unregulated movement of workers back and forth reportedly continues, due to openings in the West Bank Barrier.

Of the 99 active cases in the oPt, 59 are in East Jerusalem. In East Jerusalem, COVID-19 cases continue to be managed by the East Jerusalem Hospital Network (EJHN) and Israeli hospitals. Despite donor pledges, the EJHN hospitals are still in need of medical supplies and equipment to be fully prepared to receive COVID-19 patients. The access of Palestinians holding West Bank IDs to East Jerusalem hospitals remains severely restricted, with only emergency cases and cancer patients granted permits.

Since last week, Palestinian farmers who own land in the closed area behind the Barrier (the ‘Seam Zone’) in the Qalqiliya area have been permitted to regain access to their land. However, access remains restricted in the Jenin, Tulkarm and Salfit governorates, due to the continuing revocation of permits and in addition the continued closure of agricultural gates.

In the reporting period, tension has increased in the West Bank, with two Palestinians, including a child, and an Israeli soldier killed. The level of demolitions has markedly increased, despite the Israeli authorities restricting the practice during Ramadan in recent years. Citing the lack of building permits, the Israeli authorities demolished or seized eight Palestinian-owned, livelihood-related structures and two homes in Area C, resulting in two people displaced. The self-demolition of a residential extension was also recorded in East Jerusalem.

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

Gaza Strip

No new COVID-19 cases were detected in Gaza since 6 May. Of the total of 20 cases reported, four are active. Some 7,492 samples have been taken in Gaza since the start of the pandemic.

The Rafah Crossing opened exceptionally in one direction between 12 and 14 May, allowing at least 1,160 people to return from Egypt to Gaza. The returnees have been placed in mandatory 21-day quarantine at designated centres, increasing their combined occupancy from 416 people last week to 1,590. The number of active centres has increased from nine to 17. The new arrivals are set to be tested on the fourth day of their quarantine and WHO has delivered additional testing supplies with a capacity to test 2,200 people to the MoH Gaza for that purpose. Humanitarian partners have also delivered thousands of non-food items, hygiene kits and food, as well as protection and education interventions to support people in quarantine centres.

FAO reports that the pandemic has disrupted livelihoods, food supply chains and access to food in Gaza. The Gaza Ministry of Agriculture estimates that, in March 2020 alone, the agriculture sector lost up to US$2.7 million, affecting thousands of farmers and their families. These losses are mainly due to the lockdown and restrictive hours of operation of agricultural markets, concern of consumers regarding crowded spaces and reduced demand in both local and external markets. Fish trade in March and April 2020 declined by 35 and 70 per cent compared with the equivalent period in 2019.

Up to 250 Palestinians currently in Jordan and elsewhere abroad are expected to cross via the Allenby Bridge over the next three weeks and return to Gaza through the Erez Crossing. The movement of goods from Israel and Egypt has continued as previously, including the entry of restricted (“dual use”) items via the Israeli-controlled Kerem Shalom Crossing.

Inter-Agency Response Plan – Funding Status

A revised version of the COVID-19 Inter-Agency Response Plan for the oPt 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. The updated requirement is $42.4 million, up from $34 million in the original version.

As of 18 May, $22.9 million, or 54 per cent of the amount requested in the Response Plan has been raised.  Including resources outside the Response Plan, $39.5 million have been mobilized to support COVID-19-related response activities in the oPt.

This week, Germany contributed $1.5 million towards the activities of Health Cluster. An additional contribution in support of health-related activities, more than $300.000, was provided by ECHO.

Humanitarian partners will 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% 1,721,500 8,135,828
Health 19,106,615  11,377,052 60%  9,563,147  20,940,199
Protection  951,000  373,000 39%   373,000
Shelter & NFI  3,342,551  1,250,000 37%  2,698,500  3,948,500
WASH  6,055,240   2,668,329 44% 892,970 3,561,299
Total 42,440,132 22,888,715 54% 16,641,117 39,529,832

Total funding for COVID-19 response by donors

Donor Through the Response Plan Outside the Response Plan Total in US$
AECID 37,655   37,655
Austria    229,564  229,564* 
Canada 1,878,050   1,878,050
CERF 300,000   300,000
DFID 1,120,000   1,120,000
ECHO 1,983,760 6,305,000* 8,288,760
Education Cannot Wait 555,000 1,550,000 2,105,000
France 827,815   827,815
Germany 1,540,000   1,540,000
Ireland (Irish Aid) 235,200   235,200
Islamic Relief Worldwide 91,400   91,400
Italian Agency for Development Cooperation [AICS] 150,340 10,970 161,310
Italy (IADC)   35,000 35,000
Kuwait  747,500  8,252,500 9,000,000
NCA HQ, DCA  71,035   71,035
Norway 70,000 91,083 161,083
Nous Cims 54,310   54,310
OPT Humanitarian Fund 6,393,458   6,393,458
PHG   7,000 7,000
Private Sector Fundraising 386,786   386,786
Qatar Red Crescent   10,000 10,000
Secours Islamique France 79,407   79,407
Start Network / Start Fund - COVID-19 100,000   100,000
Sweden (SIDA) 500,000   500,000
UNESCO    150,000  150,000
UNICEF 627,000   627,000
WFP (HQ loan) 5,000,000   5,000,000
WHO 140,000   140,000
Grand Total 22,888,715  16,641,117 39,529,832

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

Coordination

Strategic coordination of the Inter-Agency response continues to be led by the COVID-19 Task Force with operational response coordinated by the Inter-Cluster Coordination Groups (ICCG) in Gaza and the West Bank. Close Coordination continues with the Palestinian and the Israeli authorities.

In support of communication with affected communities nearly 40 partners continue to distribute 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.

UNICEF is taking the lead in coordinating and centralizing the procurement of medical supplies and equipment.  Additionally, the World Food Programme (WFP) has set up a logistics working group to support humanitarian partners in providing key supply chains, reducing duplication and increasing cost efficiency. Logistics services will be provided by air and sea, through Ben-Gurion Airport and Ashdod Port.

Developments, concerns and funding status by cluster

Health

US$ 19,106,615 US$ 11,377,052 60% US$ 9,563,147 US$ 20,940,199
Funding requirements Through the Response Plan of the RP covered Outside Response plan Total Funding Received
  • Over 170,000 people have benefited from activities carried out by the Health Cluster during the reporting period. Nearly 115,000 people were reached with messages related to COVID-19. Since the start of the crisis, partners delivered over 75,000 full personal protective equipment (PPE) across the oPt, (including over 20 per cent in the Gaza Strip), some 7,000 tests kits and a PCR machine for the Gaza Strip.
  • Loneliness, depression, drug use, and self-harm or suicidal behaviour remains of concern. Limited funding is hindering the ability to upscale mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) activities. In one week, 700 people in need were reached, while key providers such as UNRWA and Sawa have increased their efforts to respond to MHPPS needs.
  • The Health Cluster calls on all relevant stakeholders to resume and/or continue the delivery of essential health services. Of particular importance are primary healthcare services, including through the operation of mobile health clinics; sexual, reproductive and maternal health services; critical inpatient services, including dialysis; trauma services for injured people; services for people with disabilities; provision of medicines and supplies for the management of ongoing chronic conditions; and time-sensitive surgeries. Supporting key providers, including UNRWA and national NGOs, is essential for this purpose.
  • Despite donor pledges, the East Jerusalem Hospital Network is still in need of medical supplies and equipment to be fully prepared to receive COVID-19 patients.  East Jerusalem is also in need of increased risk communication and community engagement, particularly for communities located behind the Barrier (Kafr ‘Aqab and Shu’fat Refugee Camp), the Old City, and Silwan neighbourhood.

Protection

US$ 951,000  US$ 373,000 39%   US$ 373,000
Funding requirements Through the Response Plan of the RP covered Outside Response plan Total Funding Received
  • Cluster partners report an increase in cyber-abuse and blackmail against women and children in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.  
  • Partners dealing with gender-based violence (GBV) report cases of women and girls with disabilities no longer benefitting from cash assistance provided by the Ministry of Social Development (MoSD). Cash assistance to women and girls with disabilities has been interrupted, reportedly without any follow-up on their needs during the COVID-19 outbreak. 
  • Cases of child custody, alimony and divorce at Sharia courts remain frozen, undermining women’s access to justice. This is due to the continued partial, or full, closure of these courts in the context of the COVID-19 restrictions. Reportedly, spouses/partners who fail to pay maintenance or alimony are not being served with jail time to enforce their obligations.

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 are working with the Ministry of Education (MoE) to ensure the protection of students who will be taking the twelfth grade exams, the Tawjihi. Starting on 30 May, approximately 78,000 students across the oPt will sit for the exams; 44,500 in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and 33,500 in the Gaza Strip. UNICEF will procure hygiene and cleaning kits to be used in all exam testing centres, and will support the printing and dissemination of Infection and Protection Control materials 
  • Education Cluster partners continue to provide mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) to students, parents and teachers. The MHPSS taskforce, supporting the MoE during the COVID-19 crisis, continues to provide remote services, while building the capacity of the MoE counsellors. Specific attention was given to children in quarantine centres in the Gaza Strip, who received counselling sessions, psychosocial support kits and stationery. 
  • The Education Cluster, together with the MoE and its donors, is developing a framework for the reopening of schools. The framework will build on the UNICEF, UNESCO and World Bank guidelines for 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

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 provided non-food items (NFIs) and hygiene kits to over 1,000 people sent to quarantine facilities in Gaza following their return from Egypt. This followed the re-opening of the Rafah Crossing between 12 and 14 May, during which over 1,160 people entered the Gaza Strip. This brings the total number of people in 16 quarantine facilities to 1,590. Shelter Cluster partners distributed 2,600 NFIs, 1,436 individual hygiene kits and 15 cleaning kits to quarantine facilities during the week. 
  • Palestinian staff at the pre-screening facilities established next to the checkpoints controlling movement between the West Bank and Israel lack PPE, cleaning materials and thermometers. Many of the facilities are managed by the staff from nearby municipalities. The items lacking are needed to conduct a safe initial testing and registration of workers returning from Israel. 
  • Nearly 13,000 people in home quarantine, including Palestinian workers that have returned from Israel, are in need of non-food Items (NFIs), cleaning materials and information about appropriate behaviour during the quarantine period. 

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene

US$ 6,055,240 US$ 2,668,329 44% US$ 892,970 US$ 3,561,299
Funding requirements Through the Response Plan of the RP covered Outside Response plan Total Funding Received
  • Water supply across the oPt is undermined due to a sharp decline in revenues by service providers. The decrease is due to the limited financial capacity of beneficiaries, the partial operation of banks, collection stations and public service centres in local councils, and movement restrictions.  
  • 25 per cent of local councils in the oPt report an inability to conduct cleaning and sanitization campaigns in public facilities. This is primarily due to the lack of financial resources. 
  • Overall, WASH Cluster partners reached some 28,700 people during the ninth week of the COVID-19 response plan implementation. Three partners delivered 16,758 bottles of water and 452 hygiene kits for quarantine centres in the Gaza Strip; 13 latrines at major crossing checkpoints and city entrances in the West Bank; sanitization, cleaning and protection materials for 12 institutions in the West Bank; and desludging of 38 cesspits and septic tanks in the Gaza Strip.

Food Security

US$ 11,781,726 US$ 6,414,328 54% US$ 1,721,500 US$ 8,135,828
Funding requirements Through the Response Plan of the RP covered Outside Response plan Total Funding Received
  • Approximately 275,000 workers across the oPt have applied to the Ministry of Labour for cash assistance. The first allocation would include NIS 700 per worker for a total of 40,500 applicants.  
  • Decline in food retail sales continue, due to the limited purchasing power of customers. Requests to buy food on credit increase.  
  • Cost of production is still high, amidst a lack of crucial inputs. The limited availability of inputs and movement restrictions between governorates continue to affect production and causes delays. Broiler producers report that the high price of feed, combined with low sales, render production unsustainable. Traded fodder is poor quality, as it cannot be checked at source due to movement restrictions. Despite the partial resumption of informal credit to producers, cash-only payments continue to limit bulk purchases, causing liquidity concerns.  
  • The livestock sector remains badly with the red meat and dairy sectors worst hit. Other agricultural sectors however, are showing signs of recovery with increases in the export of avocado, lemon and guava. 
  • There is a sharp decrease in public revenues at all levels. Government officials expect a significant decrease in revenues, due to the decrease in transactions at commercial crossings, as well as challenges in collecting local taxes and VAT. Fuel consumption also decreased by 50 per cent, impacting both service delivery and government revenues.

For 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 maps of quarantine facilities 

Detailed list of activities by cluster


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