Palestinians shut West Financial institution colleges as coronavirus variants surge | Coronavirus pandemic Information

The intensive care units for COVID-19 patients in the West Bank are 95 percent busy, according to the PA’s Ministry of Health.

Schools in the occupied West Bank will be closed for 12 days to prevent a surge in coronavirus variant infections, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said on Saturday.

High schools will be exempt from the closure, which will begin on Sunday, Shtayyeh said in a televised address, adding that the new restrictions were triggered by an increasing number of cases of the coronavirus variants first discovered in the UK and South Africa.

Intensive care units for COVID-19 patients have reached 95 percent utilization in the West Bank, and schools have been identified as the main cause of the rapid spread of infections, according to the Ministry of Health.

On Thursday it reported that a randomized sample of coronavirus patients showed that more than three-quarters were infected with the UK variant.

The World Bank said in a report this week that the Occupied Palestinian Territories have one of the lowest test rates in the Middle East and North Africa, and that the positivity rate is more than 21 percent in the West Bank and 29 percent in Gaza, suggesting an uncontrolled spread of the Pandemic.

The West Bank, home to 3.1 million Palestinians, has reported a total of 118,519 coronavirus cases and 1,406 deaths.

In Gaza, where coronavirus restrictions have been gradually lifted since January, 55,091 cases and 549 deaths have been reported among a population of two million.

With around 32,000 doses of vaccine so far, the Palestinians launched limited immunization programs in the West Bank and Gaza Strip this month, starting with health workers.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) expects to receive an initial shipment of COVAX within a few weeks and says it has also signed supply deals with Russia and drug maker AstraZeneca, although the doses are slow to come. Shtayyeh said he expected deliveries in March.

Israel has given the PA 2,000 doses to date, with the Palestinians accusing Israel of ignoring its obligations as an occupying power by not including the Palestinians in its vaccination program. Human rights groups and UN officials have also stated that Israel is responsible for the welfare of the Palestinians.

Israel says the PA is responsible for vaccination campaigns in the West Bank and Gaza Strip under peace agreements.

Amid vaccine shortages in the Palestinian territories, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s controversial plan to ship excess coronavirus vaccines to a group of allied nations was temporarily frozen on Thursday.

The Palestinian foreign minister, Riyad al-Maliki, called Netanyahu’s plan “political blackmail and immoral act” and accused Israel of “exploiting the humanitarian needs of these countries”.

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