Rival Palestinian governments in West Bank, Gaza adopt preventive measures over Omicron strain
President Mahmoud Abbas extended a state of emergency on Sunday for 30 days in the Palestinian territories due to the emergence of the new Omicron COVID-19 strain, the official Palestinian news agency WAFA reported
The decree came after Israel reported its first cases of the new Omicron variant of Covid-19, which has caused alarm around the world due to its rapid spread and possible resistance to existing vaccines.
Palestinian Authority health minister Mai al-Kaila told reporters in Ramallah that her ministry is not sure if there are currently any cases infected with the new strain in the Palestinian territories.
"We do not have suitable equipment for testing this kind of COVID-19 strain,. she said"
She added that she was deeply concerned over a potential spread to the Palestinian territories, saying that an epidemiological committee will submit recommendations to the Higher Emergency Committee in order to try to prevent the outbreak of the new virus.
In Gaza, the Hamas-run Health Ministry adopted a series of preventive and precautionary measures to confront COVID-19 Omicron.
The Director of Preventive Medicine at the Ministry, Majdi Dheir, said in a press conference that procedures will be tightened at border crossings, especially for travellers coming from Africa.
Dheir added that the health ministry was "maximizing readiness" to face any emergency, preparing hospital beds and medical staff, and raising diagnostic capabilities.
On Monday, the ministry will start an intensive campaign to expand the circle of people who should be vaccinated, including people aged from 12 to 15 years.
"We in Gaza are not far from the Omicron variant, and measures to combat the pandemic must continue," he said, calling on people to receive vaccines.
Palestine recorded 239 new cases of the coronavirus on Sunday, raising the total number of infections reported to 1,430,400.
One person died of Covid-19, bringing the total number of deaths to 4,792.