The first Palestinian has died from the novel coronavirus in the occupied West Bank, officials announced on Wednesday.
The victim was identified as a woman in her 60’s from the Biddu village, north of Jerusalem in the central West Bank.
She died only one day after she tested positive for the virus, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.
Government spokesman Ibrahim Melhem said that the woman’s condition severely deteriorated this morning, and she was transported to a medical facility in the village of Turmus Ayya, outside Ramallah, before she succumbed to the disease.
While the government has yet to confirm how she contracted the virus, as she had not traveled outside of her village recently, officials said they suspected she contracted it from one of her sons, who works as a Palestinian labourer in Israel.
The announcement of the woman’s death was a sobering moment for Palestinians, who so far had been maintaining a sense of optimism and positivity towards the government’s containment efforts against the virus.
But as of Wednesday, that number climbed even higher to 64 confirmed cases, two of which are from the besieged Gaza Strip.
While the number remains relatively low compared to Israel, which now has at least 2,170 confirmed cases, there is growing concern over the types of cases that are appearing in Palestine.
At the beginning of the outbreak, which started on March 5th, the majority of the cases were limited to the city of Bethlehem, the epicenter of the outbreak.
However, more and more cases are being identified in districts across the West Bank, with 20% of all cases in the Ramallah district, according to UN documentation.
In a worrying announcement, the health ministry reported that a young woman in Ramallah had tested positive, and that officials were still unsure of how she contracted the virus.
The Palestinian Authority is stepping up its containment efforts, implementing heavier restrictions on movement across the West Bank and within major cities.
The government urged people to stay in their homes and practice social distancing, restricting people to only “essential” movements like accessing healthcare or buying groceries.