11/24/2020, 13.41
ISRAEL - PALESTINE
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Gaza parish priest: Covid cases escalate, but schools and activities stay open

Fr. Romanelli confirms the increase in infections and victims in the Strip, where the alert is high. Concern about hospitals and intensive care, almost full. Swab testing also increases, with 800 positives out of about 3 thousand tests. Fears as winter approaches, but the population rediscovers the importance of nutrition and sporting activity. Some initiatives related to Christmas are underway.

Gaza (AsiaNews) - Cases of Covid-19 "continue to increase, the number of deaths also seem to increase according to the latest data", while hospital beds "are at maximum capacity and, although it is not cold yet, as the winter season draws near there is the fear that the emergency will worsen”.

Fr. Gabriel Romanelli, Gaza parish priest confirms the climate of "great tension" around the coronavirus pandemic which is being countered by an "increase in swab tests: the other day they carried out 3 thousand, of which 800 were infected".

The Argentine priest of the Incarnate Word underlines that, despite the restrictions, “many activities are still permitted, even if new measures are being studied. One of the hypotheses - he continues - is to limit internal movements, but a lot will depend on the numbers in the next few days”.

What is certain is that "we are not in a context of total lockdown: at school some classes remain in person. In the parish we have allowed various activities to continue always ensuring limited numbers, disinfection of the areas, measuring the temperature at the entrance and everyone wears a mask".

"We have also resumed masses" and many activities "with adults, children and adolescents take place on a regular basis", albeit with fewer people because "some are afraid of the virus, others have someone who is sick or an infected relative".

The Christian community of the Strip and the inhabitants of Gaza are trying to find their own normality, to live with the virus even if the alert remains high and the fears, especially about the health system, are becoming more and more pronounced.

The data speak of a marked growth in infections and hospital admissions. Health workers warn that respirators are running out, as are the (few) places available in intensive care. For the microbiologist Abdelraouf Elmanama, member of the local task force, "within the next 10 days the system will be unable to absorb the peaks".

There have been 1560 new cases in the last 24 hours in the Palestinian Territories, of which 689 in the Strip; the daily deaths are 16, of which at least three in Gaza. So far in the Palestinian enclave governed by Hamas counts nearly 15,500 infected (out of a population of two million people living isolated in an open-air prison) and 69 dead. Another 92 are in serious condition while the total beds in intensive care are about a hundred.

Until August, the territory, a victim of the blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt, had managed to contain the damage as confirmed by the parish priest of Gaza, speaking of a long "miraculous" reality. On November 15, the authorities imposed several restrictions including a ban on travel to the most affected areas, closing of shops from 5 pm and banning meetings of more than 15 people indoors.

In a climate of great uncertainty, Christians have already started some initiatives related to Christmas: "We are extravagant - he says - and we have already started visiting the houses with the large image of the Child Jesus, the one we use for adoration at mass midnight. Faith moves us, because prayer these days can help, then we carry on because we don't know what will happen, if there will be further closures”. Christians, like most of the inhabitants of Gaza, have “seen everything, we do not lack hope even if people are used to suffering. But the closeness of the parish priest, of the Church made them understand that they are not abandoned”.

"Some fears - he concludes – arise ahead of the winter, which always bring colds and ailments. However, the pandemic has made it clear the importance of nutrition and physical activity, even a simple walk ", to a population which traditionally has been inattentive to health concerns.

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