03/23/2020, 13.55
ISRAEL - PALESTINE
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Gaza Parish priest: terrible consequences from epidemic. We pray for Italy (video)

Fr. Romanelli fears for the first two cases of new coronavirus in the Strip. Both patients are in solitary confinement in a location near the border with Egypt. B’Tselem: a decade of blockade has brought health system to its knees. From Christian leaders in Jerusalem new provisions for access to places of worship.

Gaza (AsiaNews) - "This morning [yesterday for the reader, ed.] authorities warned that two people have been found positive for the new coronavirus. These are two fellow citizens returning from Pakistan and who were already in quarantine," reports the Gaza parish priest Fr. Gabriel Romanelli.

Speaking to AsiaNews, the Argentine priest of the Incarnate Word confirms that the Covid-19 global pandemic has arrived in the Strip. "As far as we know - he adds - the two were already in isolation. Both are being treated in a dedicated location near Rafah, on the border with Egypt. "

The danger of an expansion in the contagions in the Strip worries activists and non-governmental organizations. B'Tselem spokesman Amit Gilutz, writes that because of teh blockade imposed by Israel: "The healthcare system in the Gaza Strip was already on the brink of collapse, even before receiving its first CODVID-19 patient". This situation has led to "extreme poverty and dependence on humanitarian aid" from outside.

The two infected, says Fr. Romanelli, “are located in a location along the border. According to the authorities, they are the first ascertained cases of citizens of the Strip but they would not have entered the territory ". The hope, he continues, "is that the virus will not spread to Gaza, because given the humanitarian situation [onthe brink of collapse] the consequences would be terrible".

The two cases concern citizens of the Strip returning from Pakistan, via Egypt and in their thirties. Official sources report that people who have been in contact with them have been quarantined, while the closure of schools, markets and public events has been confirmed.

So far, says the Argentine priest, “the Lord has spared this further suffering. It would be a miracle if the new coronavirus did not enter. For this reason, the situation remains one of high alert and everyone's attention is focused on control " at the border crossing.

During the weekend, Christians in Gaza also wanted to show support and solidarity with Italy (see video), the nation most affected in the world today by Covid-19. “The parish of the Holy Family - concludes Fr. Romanelli - wanted to dedicate a prayer to all friends and to all the Italian population, in this moment of trial and suffering ".

The Churches of the Holy Sepulchre also intervened on the coronavirus crisis at the weekend, with a joint document signed by the custodian of the Holy Land Francesco Patton, the Greek Orthodox patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilus II and the Armenian patriarch Nourahan Manougian. The Christian leaders write: "while maintaining the Church open we urge the worshipers to: Refrain from any gatherings of more than 10 people in the same place and at the same time in the Basilica; keep a minimal distance of 2 meters between each person, avoid any act of devotion that might include physical contact such as touching and kissing the stones, touching icons, vestments and the personnel in the Basilica and to abide always by the instructions of the authorities. ".

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