'Gaza does not have ability to deal with Omicron': Palestinian officials

'Gaza does not have ability to deal with Omicron': Palestinian officials
2 min read
11 January, 2022
Palestinian officials said on Tuesday that the Omicron variant poses a huge health risk to the people of Gaza.
Gaza medical crews were unable to determine the source of infection [Getty]

Palestinian officials said on Tuesday that Gaza's health ministry does not have the ability to deal with the spread of the Omicron variant sufficiently, amid a lack of medical supplies and equipment. 

The Hamas-run health ministry announced on Sunday that the besieged land strip has seen a surge in new Omicron cases but did not specify numbers. 

Majdi Dhair, a health ministry official, told The New Arab: "There are deep concerns and fears of a strong and uncontrolled fourth wave triggered [in Gaza] by the Omicron variant."

He said there are likely many undetected cases of Omicron, meaning that the new Covid-19 variant will inevitably rip through the territory in the coming weeks.

Despite their best efforts, the Gaza medical workers have been unable to determine a source of the new outbreak, the official noted. 

Only the central laboratory in Gaza can diagnose Omicron, posing an additional challenge in the fight to control the variant's spread. 

To make matters worse, the official said his ministry does not have the medical equipment needed to deal with a surge in Covid-19 cases, in part due to the Israeli blockade on Gaza.

"Israel insists on obstructing the entry of necessary medical devices, such as mobile radiology devices, ventilators, and supplies for X-ray machines, as well as oxygen stations," he explained. 

He called on human rights and international institutions to intensify their pressure on Israel to allow medical equipment to be allowed into Gaza.

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There are other challenges for medics in Gaza.

Mohammed Abu Rayya, a public health and epidemiological consultant at the ministry, told The New Arab that fewer than 500,000 Palestinians in Gaza - a population of over 2 million - have been vaccinated, well below levels needed to achieve herd immunity.

Abu Rayya urged citizens to get fully vaccinated, to prevent the spread of the disease.