By Zehra Nur Duz
ANKARA (AA) - Gaza's struggle against the coronavirus pandemic has been decimated by Israel's 13-year blockade that has caused severe shortages of medicine and equipment, the country’s health ministry said Wednesday.
Health Ministry spokesman Esref al-Kudra said it is fighting COVID-19 with limited capabilities that decrease daily.
Kudra said 43% of medicines, 25% of medical consumables, 65% of laboratory supplies and blood banks have already been consumed.
A huge shortage of sterilizers and personal protective equipment are compounding the challenges, said Kudra.
He urged local, regional and international authorities to take immediate action to provide Palestine with supplies, noting it has only 63 ventilators and 78 intensive care unit (ICU) beds which he said hardly meets the daily needs of patients as the occupancy rate is at 72% in hospitals.
He made an urgent appeal for 100 ventilators and 140 ICU beds.
Palestinian authorities confirmed 134 virus cases, including 12 in the Gaza Strip and 122 in the West Bank.
After first appearing in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December, the virus has spread to at least 180 countries and regions, according to data compiled by U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.
The global death toll from the virus nears 46,300, with more than 921,900 diagnosed cases, according to the university.
The virus attacks the respiratory tract with the potential to cause pneumonia and death.
Despite its severity, most experience mild symptoms and recover. But the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions are particularly vulnerable.