West Bank coronavirus cases double in a week


Ramallah (Palestinian Territories) (AFP)

Coronavirus cases in the West Bank have more than doubled in a week, the Palestinian Authority said Monday after warning a second wave of infections could be worse than the first.

The Palestinian health ministry reported 142 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, "the highest rate in a single day" since the start of the pandemic.

A week ago, the ministry reported there were 430 COVID-19 cases in the West Bank.

By Monday, cases in the Palestinian territory -- occupied by Israel since 1967 -- had more than doubled to 903.

Israel has recorded over 20,800 coronavirus cases, including 307 deaths and authorities are saying they are preparing for a second wave of infections.

On Thursday, Palestinian health minister Mai al-Kaila warned of a second wave of infections "more dangerous than the first".

"Numerous cases have been discovered where the source of transmission is unknown, and medical workers have also been infected," she said.

Most infections are traceable to Palestinians working in Israel or Arab Israeli visitors to the West Bank, Kaila said.

Palestinian authorities temporarily closed the West Bank cities of Hebron and Nablus on Saturday in a bid to contain the spread of coronavirus after a sharp rise in infections.

Palestinian authorities urged Arab Israelis -- descendents of Palestinians who remained on their land after the creation of Israel in 1948 -- to avoid visiting and Palestinians working in Israel to stay home for 14 days.

A lockdown of the West Bank in place since the first coronavirus cases were identified on 5 March was lifted at the end of May.

In the Gaza Strip, Palestinian authorities have registered 72 COVID-19 cases, including one death.