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PCHR Demands Provision of Health and Humanitarian Standards at Gaza Strip COVID-19 Quarantine Centers

Ref: 20/2020

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights is closely monitoring the precautionary measures adopted by the Ministry of Health (MOH) in the Gaza Strip in the face of Coronavirus (VOCID-19), including the medical exam procedures and quarantine policies for Palestinians returning from abroad via Rafah and Beit Hanoun “Erez” Crossings, south and north of Gaza. PCHR expresses its concern for the conditions at the quarantine centers in southern Gaza Strip, in light of the complaints PCHR received from persons in quarantine that indicate lack of health and safety standards.

According to PCHR’s investigations, MOH – Gaza conducts medical examinations on Palestinians returning from abroad via Rafah and Beit Hanoun “Erez” Crossings, and is keeping several persons for 14 days as a precautionary measures against COVID-19 at the 3 centers dedicated for quarantine in southern Gaza Strip: Marmara Elementary School for Girls and Ghassan Kanafany School for Boys in Rafah, and al-Safwa Elementary School in Khan Younis. Approximately 80 persons were checked into quarantine at Maramara and Ghassan Kanafany schools in Rafah immediately upon return from Egypt, including dozens of patients who were in Egypt for medical treatment, and dozens of students at Egyptian universities. Meanwhile, approximately 300 persons were checked into al-Safwa school in Khan Younis upon their return from Beit Hanoun Crossing, including patients with cancer, renal failure and hemiplegia who were receiving treatment in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Israeli hospitals. They were all subjected to medical examinations and had pledged to commit to at-home quarantine for 14 days.

PCHR received multiple and consistent complaints from persons in quarantine that highlighted the lack of minimum health and safety standards at the quarantine centers, as each classroom is filled by a group of 10, without beds or covers. Bathrooms are commonly used, unhygienic and lack cleaning and sterilizing materials; additionally, water supply is inconsistent and is cut for several hours. The complaints stressed as well that there are persons with serious diseases in the quarantine centers and are in need of medicine and continued medical observation.

PCHR appreciates the importance of precautionary measures at the Gaza Strips’ border crossings and the necessity of quarantine for Palestinians returning from abroad for the sake of public safety; thus, the Centre:

  • Calls for provision of health and safety standards at the quarantine centers, especially with the number of persons checked-in and the provision of basic services, including proper lavatories and suitable meals;
  • Calls for MOH to uphold its direct and full responsibility for the supervision of quarantine centers in a manner that ensures both the safety of persons in quarantine and interrupting transmission of COVID-19. PCHR stresses the need for coordination between MOH in Gaza and Ramallah to benefit from the efforts of MOH-Ramallah in facing the spread of Coronavirus and operating quarantine centers which were applauded by the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • Calls upon the international community and HWO to pressure Israeli authorities to allow the entry of medical supplies and equipment necessary for Coronavirus medical examination, as well as other basic commodities via the border crossings under its control.