A Palestinian man with his children wearing protective face masks rides his motorcycle by police officers amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in the northern Gaza Strip
A Palestinian man with his children wearing protective face masks rides his motorcycle by police officers amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in the northern Gaza Strip
Photo: Reuters
A Palestinian man with his children wearing protective face masks rides his motorcycle by police officers amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in the northern Gaza Strip

In crowded Gaza, public embraces mask-wearing to fight COVID-19

Five weeks into outbreak, Hamas-controlled enclave closes most restaurants, shops, schools, mosques and other public facilities and places night-time curfew to safeguard health of its two million residents

Reuters |
Published: 10.01.20 , 20:15
The coronavirus may have been slow to reach the sealed-off Gaza Strip, but Palestinians in the densely populated enclave have been quick to embrace mask-wearing to try to contain its spread.
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  • Five weeks into an outbreak of COVID-19 among the general population in the territory - many shops, restaurants, schools, mosques and other public facilities remain closed, and a night-time curfew is in effect.
    A Palestinian man with his children wearing protective face masks rides his motorcycle by police officers amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in the northern Gaza Strip A Palestinian man with his children wearing protective face masks rides his motorcycle by police officers amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in the northern Gaza Strip
    A Palestinian man with his children wearing protective face masks rides his motorcycle by police officers amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in the northern Gaza Strip
    (Photo: Reuters)
    It is rare to see anyone without a mask outdoors, with the coronavirus death toll at 20 and nearly 3,000 cases reported since infections spread beyond border quarantine facilities on Aug. 24.
    Citing security concerns, Israel and Egypt maintain tight restrictions along the Gaza frontier, where two million people live under the rule of the Islamist Hamas group.
    Tariq Zaanin, 35, from the Gaza town of Beit Hanoun, said Gazans had thought their hated isolation from the outside world would at least keep them safe from the global pandemic.
    Palestinian healthcare workers leave a home after collecting swab samples from a family to be tested for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Gaza City Palestinian healthcare workers leave a home after collecting swab samples from a family to be tested for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Gaza City
    Palestinian healthcare workers leave a home after collecting swab samples from a family to be tested for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Gaza City
    (Photo: Reuters)
    "Today it has spread in your neighborhood, hitting friends and relatives. So people are now more cautious because they are afraid for themselves and for those they care about," he said.
    Zaanin, a hairdresser, got married on Sept. 22, but social distancing meant canceling a large wedding dinner.
    "Some may say it saved us money, but it took away our joy," he said.
    International health officials caution that a wider COVID-19 outbreak in Gaza would be disastrous, given its under-developed health system and a chronic shortage of medical supplies.
    Gaza security men in protective gear outside local hospital Gaza security men in protective gear outside local hospital
    Gaza security men in protective gear outside local hospital
    (Photo: AP)
    Gaza's security forces enforce a ban on beach-going, a popular activity in the enclave, where frequent power cuts make cooling off that much harder.
    Police checkpoints have been scattered throughout the territory, inspecting vehicles to ensure drivers and passengers wear masks.
    Eyad Al-Bozom, a Gaza interior ministry spokesman, said people who violate health regulations or the curfew can be fined or detained.
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