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The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Two more Palestinian officials test positive for coronavirus

More than 44,000 people who have tested positive in the Israeli-occupied West Bank [Getty]

Date of publication: 23 October, 2020

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A number of high-level Palestinian officials have tested positive for Covid-19, including Saeb Erekat.
Two more senior Palestinian officials have tested positive for the novel coronavirus as veteran chief negotiator Saeb Erekat fights for his life in an Israeli hospital, one of them told AFP.

Palestine Liberation Organisation central committee member Azzam al-Ahmad said he and social development minister Ahmed Majdalani had both joined the growing list of Palestinian officials who have contracted the virus.

Others include high-profile PLO official Hanan Ashrawi and a Hamas leader in Gaza, Saleh al-Arouri.

Erekat, who is also secretary general of the PLO, was admitted to the coronavirus intensive care unit of Jerusalem's Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital on Sunday with severe respiratory problems, some of them pre-existing.

On admission, his doctors described his condition as "serious" but it deteriorated on Monday and he was put on a ventilator in a medically induced coma. Doctors say his condition is "critical".

"Mr Erekat is a challenge to treat for coronavirus, since he had lung transplants, he is immunosuppressed, and has another bacterial infection in addition to coronavirus," the hospital said on Monday.

The 65-year-old, who underwent lung-transplant surgery in the United States in 2017, had tested positive for the novel coronavirus on October 9, the PLO said.

In recent days, there have been small demonstrations outside the hospital by hardline Israeli Jews opposed to Erekat receiving treatment from Israeli doctors.

Erekat is among more than 44,000 people who have tested positive in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Of those, 406 have died.

In the densely populated but blockaded Gaza Strip, there have been 5,079 confirmed cases, of whom 29 have died.



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