Coronavirus test
Coronavirus test iStock

Hamas said on Monday it had received nearly 20,000 coronavirus test kits from the World Health Organization, after warning it could no longer perform testing in the Gaza Strip due to a shortage, AFP reported.

The Gaza “health ministry” initially said the only laboratory in the region able to analyze COVID-19 test samples had ceased its work "due to a lack of equipment" and called for urgent action.

In a later statement, the ministry said it had received 19,500 kits from the WHO, allowing testing to restart. But the newly arrived batch "is only enough for eight days", it added.

Senior Hamas official and former health minister Bassem Naim said authorities usually carry out "between 2,500 and 3,000 tests per day, at a cost of between $75,000 and $100,000".

"There is an urgent need to take measures to save the lives of Gaza's citizens and contain the crisis," he told AFP.

The first cases of COVID-19 in Gaza were reported in late March. Before that, local authorities declared a new set of precautionary measures amid concerns about the spread of the novel coronavirus in the coastal enclave.

Gaza recorded its first death from COVID-19 in late May. The death was a 77-year-old woman from the district of Khan Yunis who had returned from Egypt the previous week.

In mid-August, Gaza had recorded only around 100 COVID-19 cases, but the past two weeks have seen a steep deterioration in containment, according to AFP.

Last Thursday, Hamas announced a lockdown on weekends from December 11 to the end of the month. It also closed schools, universities, kindergartens and mosques.

Join our official WhatsApp group