“They told us that because of the coronavirus, all the beds are full,” she said. “Everything has become very hard.”
An emergency room medic, who was not authorized to talk to reporters and so spoke on condition of anonymity, said 14 suspected COVID-19 patients arrived Tuesday morning, a day after 24 were transferred to a ward for treating the disease.
At a testing center across town, scores of people gathered in an auditorium waiting to be swabbed. Many showed symptoms, and several said members of their households had tested positive.
“The outbreak is very bad, and the cases themselves are very bad, worse than in the beginning,” said Tayeb Zeineddin, who has been working at the test center since the pandemic began. He said more than 1,000 people show up daily for tests.
The Palestinian Authority has reported more than 130,000 cases in the West Bank since the outbreak began, including at least 1,819 cases Tuesday. At least 1,510 have died, and dozens are in intensive care. In Gaza, which is ruled by the militant Hamas group and under an Israeli-Egyptian blockade, authorities have reported over 55,000 cases and at least 553 deaths.
The effects go far beyond the disease itself.
The World Bank estimates the Palestinian economy shrank by 11.5% in 2020, with tourism and restaurant sectors hit particularly hard. Unemployment in the West Bank spiked to 15% this year, and about 1.4 million Palestinians are living in poverty, it said last month.