Coronavirus spread 'untraceable' in Gaza, after Israeli bombardment destroys Covid-19 clinics

Coronavirus spread 'untraceable' in Gaza, after Israeli bombardment destroys Covid-19 clinics
The 11-day Israeli bombardment of the besieged Gaza Strip has damaged infrastructure capable of dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic.
2 min read
25 May, 2021
Gaza's coronavirus facilities are in ruins [Getty]

An eleven-day Israeli assault on the besieged Gaza Strip left the coronavirus facilities in ruins, a doctor in the enclave said on Monday.

The bombardment left six hospitals and 11 medical facilities damaged, with services impacted. One of those affected was Al-Rimal clinic, where Covid-19 vaccinations were being administered.

"We have gone from conducting 4,000 coronavirus tests a day to around 1,500," Dr Adel Al Roga, the head of Gaza's only coronavirus testing laboratory, told The National.

"The facility is not suited for receiving people and patients who wish to get vaccinated," he explained, adding that the situation remains dire for the clinic even after access to electricity and water resumed.

"Destruction to main roads and highways connecting governorates has hindered the ability to reach people and take samples for testing, preventing us from having an accurate impression of the virus' true spread," Dr Al Roga added.

According to the World Health Organisation, the besieged Gaza Strip is where the majority of the cases are in the occupied Palestinian territories. Almost half of Gaza’s intensive care units were occupied by coronavirus patients before the deadly offensive began.

More than 10 years of Israeli siege and four wars have crippled Gaza's health infrastructure.

On Saturday, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the Palestinian territories called for the blockade of Gaza to end, following a two day visit to affected areas in the besieged enclave. 

Lynn Hastings arrived in Gaza on Saturday, a day after a ceasefire was called, to survey the damage done to homes and civilian infrastructure. 

"I witnessed the despair of displaced families whose homes have been completely destroyed," Hastings said in a statement. 

Hastings lamented the destruction of vital civilian Palestinian infrastructure by Israeli bombardment, including those affecting healthcare services, water sanitation pipelines and agricultural supplies warehouses.

Critically needed healthcare services - including Covid-19 support - were also targeted by Israeli bombing. 

"The only primary healthcare centre in the north - which had the best rate of vaccination administration - has been damaged to an extent that they are no longer able to service the community - all during a global pandemic," said Hastings.

Israeli strikes on Gaza this month killed 248 Palestinians, including 66 children, and have wounded over 1,900 people, the Gaza health ministry says.