Fears of surge in Gaza coronavirus cases

In the Middle East, where a ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian militants has been holding, there are growing fears that the coronavirus will spread in the Gaza Strip. One of the reasons cited is a slow vaccine rollout.

One clinic in northern Gaza was the only vaccination center for the area. But the clinic suspended operations after coming under an Israeli air attack. At least 400 vaccine doses have reportedly been destroyed.

The airstrikes have further reduced Gaza's medical care system from bad to worse. Gaza's health authorities say two doctors have been killed.

One of Gaza's largest medical institutions suspended all services when a nearby building was bombed.

A health authority official Medhat Abbas said, "Damage to medical institutions hampers efforts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus." "Two other medical institutions have been destroyed," he added.

Many civilians lost their homes during the 11 days of fighting. Now there is also concern the virus could spread in shelters for displaced residents.

At one time, up to 70,000 evacuees were taking shelter at UN-run school facilities. Fifty people were reportedly living in each classroom, without enough face masks for everyone.

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees is working to protect evacuees from the coronavirus.

UNRWA Health Programme Director Seita Akihiro said, "The focus was on protecting lives during the fighting, but we have shifted to preventing infections." "The priority is on anti-virus measures, while working on reconstruction," he added.

Seita also stressed the need for psychological care for children who have been affected by the conflict.