Gaza imposes lockdown as new infections discovered

Gaza has imposed a lockdown after the first coronavirus cases were discovered outside its quarantine centres.

Overnight, police moved quickly to clear people from the streets and impose a 48-hour curfew. Schools, mosques, businesses and the beach have all been closed.

Gaza’s health ministry said the four Covid-19 cases were discovered after a woman travelled to the West Bank, where she tested positive.

Palestinian prime minister, Mohammad Shtayyeh ordered people to stay at home for two weeks from Sunday night in an effort to slow the spread of the virus, with exemptions for medical personnel, pharmacists, supermarkets and bakers.

Palestinians have also been urged to pray at home rather than in mosques, and not to hold traditional mourning gatherings in the event of fatalities.

Last month, the Gaza director of the World Health Organization, Abdelnaser Soboh, said the territory’s health system could deal with only 500 positive cases at one time. He added that the territory has 62 ventilators but may need another 100 if the virus takes hold.

Despite the lockdown, hundreds attended the funeral of four Islamic Jihad gunmen who died in an explosion in Gaza on Monday. The cause of the blast was not immediately disclosed.

An outbreak in the war torn country has been greatly feared because of its weak health care system, which has been severely tested by repeated military conflicts with Israel over the past 12 years.

There have been 59 confirmed cases in the West Bank, according to the Palestinian health ministry. Israel has recorded 945 confirmed cases and one death.