In pictures: Gazan artists paint dust masks to bring attention to the coronavirus in Palestine

Samah Said and Dorgham Krakeh have created colourful designs, from cartoon animals to airplanes

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Young artists in Gaza City have started painting dust masks as a way to raise awareness about the coronavirus pandemic in Palestine.

Palestinian artists Samah Said and Dorgham Krakeh have transformed the plain white masks into canvasses with colourful paintings of cartoon smiles, animals and airplanes.

There are also designs of the South Korean ‘finger heart’ and the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, which have both been heavily impacted by the virus.

The artists have not wasted medical masks for their project, they have instead used ordinary dust masks which offer no protection against the disease. These masks are typically made from cloth-like filters and are used in construction jobs.

“We came up with the idea… to do something new for the love of the people and to make them wear protective masks. Then we thought about drawing on masks and doing cheerful things, things related to love and peace,” Krakeh said in an interview with AFP.

According to Dr. Dana Ahmad Al Jada, a specialist in internal medicine at the Medcare Medical Centre in Rashidiya, Dubai, the campaign is “lovely”, but she stresses that the takeaway from the campaign should be about safeguarding against Covid-19 more generally. “I think people already are wearing masks. There’s no need to advertise wearing them.

"We need awareness to make people more calm and not to overstock on masks because there is a shortage worldwide,” she said.

Gaza reported its first two cases of Covid-19 on Sunday after two men returned to the strip from Pakistan via Egypt over the weekend. The men, aged 79 and 63, were placed under quarantine at the Gazan border with Egypt.

The territory is densely populated, with 2 million people living in an area of 365 square kilometres. Health officials have expressed growing concern over the potential for rampant infection in the state, which has a fragile health system.

Hamas, which governs the strip, has new restrictions in place to stem the spread of Covid-19, including the closure of schools and restaurants, suspension of Friday prayers in mosques and a bans on mass gatherings.