A member of Palestinian Civil Defense sterilizes a street in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis, March 23, 2020. Two Palestinians in Gaza have tested positive for COVID-19, becoming the first cases recorded in the Hamas-ruled enclave, a health official said early Sunday. (Photo by Yasser Qudih/Xinhua)
by Sanaa Kamal
GAZA, March 22 (Xinhua) -- Residents in the Gaza Strip have been on alert, as Gaza Health Ministry reported on Sunday the first two cases of COVID-19 in the blockaded coastal enclave.
"We are facing severe challenges to fight the novel coronavirus," Mohammed al-Sharif told Xinhua, while he was buying goods at a supermarket, preparing for a home quarantine.
The 36-year-old father of four, said that he would abide by all government's instructions, to protect his family from the spread of COVID-19.
Heba al-Masry, another resident from the Gaza city, also bought necessary goods that would be enough for the a 14-day home quarantine as a precautionary measure she adopted to protect her family from the infection.
"We do not have enough protective tools, as in the other countries," she said, adding that the "Gazans should protect themselves by implementing all official instructions."
In an attempt to reduce the spread of the virus, Palestinian social media activists launched a campaign dubbed "stay at home."
Salam Ashour, a dentist from Gaza City, posted on his Twitter account, "I am sorry, I will not treat any patient I will impose a mandatory quarantine on my family and me for two weeks to avoid the virus."
Meanwhile, in an urgent step, a specialized team of the World Health Organization (WHO) arrived in the Gaza Strip, through Erez checkpoint, a Palestinian security source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
Gerald Rockenschaub, head of the WHO office in the occupied Palestinian territories, held meetings with health officials in Gaza to look into the health situation there and the preparation to confront the virus, according to the security source.
Earlier in the day, Palestine reported six new coronavirus cases, with four in the West Bank city of Ramallah and two in Gaza Strip, bringing the total number to 59.
On March 13, Israel allowed the shipment of 200 medical examination sets to detect the novel coronavirus in the blockaded Gaza Strip.
For his part, Majdy Dhair, director of Preventive Medicine Department in the Ministry of Health, told Xinhua that the situation in Gaza Strip so far is under control.
He added that his ministry is ready to deal with any new cases, while warning that Gaza has limited medical supplies and equipment.
He called on the international community and Arab countries to end the Israeli blockade and provide medical supplies to combat the epidemic in Gaza.
Hamas established two health quarantine zones in northern and southern Gaza Strip and turned some schools to quarantine places for returning travelers.
Besides, the Ministry of Interior decided to close all wedding halls and popular weekly markets in all cities of the Gaza Strip, and prohibit parties in public streets at least for a week, said Iyad al-Bozom, spokesman of Hamas government.