Israel Hayom reported on Sunday that as many as 4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines would be provided to the Palestinian Authority to distribute in the West Bank as well as the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.
Senior officials with the PA Health Ministry told Israel Hayom that with every deal it made with different pharmaceutical companies around the world, the Israeli government would earmark a certain number of vaccines for distribution to the Palestinians.
The officials warned, however, that the vaccines allotted to the PA from Israel, the United Nations and other international organizations would not be adequate for the Palestinian population in the territories in case of an outbreak.
COVID-19 infection rates in the West Bank and Gaza have been relatively low so far, but health officials warn that in the densely populated Gaza Strip social distancing is more difficult and an outbreak would be extremely difficult to contain. Also, with rising infection rates in predominantly Arab neighborhoods of eastern Jerusalem, there is also great concern among health workers that a large outbreak among the Arab population of the West Bank is looming.
Meanwhile, in Israel, rates of infections have begun to trend upwards again, prompting an emergency meeting of the coronavirus cabinet on Monday morning. The meeting comes even as 5th and 6th grade students head back to school on Tuesday or the first time since Sept. 18. Next week, 11th and 12th graders are expected to return to school.
The death toll from COVID-19 rose above 2,800 on Sunday afternoon, while the number of patients being treated for the disease in hospitals dropped to 480 as of the time of writing. The new infections rate is trending upwards but is still much lower than before the second lockdown started in September.
“We are in a period of increasing morbidity,” new coronavirus commissioner Nachman Ash said on Sunday. “The coefficient is around one, which is unstable. On the one hand, we want to expand the opening of the economy, but on the other, we do not want to lose control.”
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.