EU promises Gaza help with obtaining coronavirus vaccine

EU promises Gaza help with obtaining highly-sought after coronavirus vaccine
2 min read
08 December, 2020
Gaza, ruled by the Islamist group Hamas since 2007, is under a tight Israeli-enforced blockade, a major factor in weakening the Palestinian enclave's health infrastructure.
The past two weeks have seen a rapid deterioration in containment of the virus. [Getty]

A European Union delegation visited Gaza on Tuesday pledging to help the blockaded Palestinian enclave access coronavirus vaccines, as the epidemic continues to escalate

EU representative to the Palestinian Territories, Sven Kuhn von Burgsdorff, who led the delegation of roughly 20 people, said the bloc would work with the United Nations "to facilitate (vaccination) to those most in need".

"It's a very complicated issue, but... the moment these vaccines become available, we will try our utmost," he said. 

Gaza, ruled by the Islamist group Hamas since 2007, is under a tight Israeli-enforced blockade, leading to the Palestinian enclave's health services coming close to collapse. 

Israel says the blockade is necessary to contain Hamas. 

Hamas acted fast in March to forestall the virus, only allowing entry to Gaza to a limited number of people, who were then required to isolate for three weeks in quarantine centres. 

In mid-August, Gaza had recorded around 100 Covid-19 cases, but the past two weeks have seen a rapid deterioration in containment.

On Monday, Hamas said it had received 20,000 test kits from the World Health OrganiSation, after warning it could no longer perform testing due to shortages. 

Facing a surge in cases, Hamas has also announced a lockdown on weekends lasting from 11 December to the end of the month. It also closed schools, universities, kindergartens and mosques.

Gaza has now registered nearly 25,600 coronavirus infections, including around 150 deaths.  

Israel's government has meanwhile announced the procurement of millions of doses of vaccines from both Pfizer and Moderna, but has not yet commented on whether these would be sent to Palestinians in the occupied West Bank or Gaza. 

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