UAE-funded hospital helps Gaza brace for ‘fourth’ Covid-19 wave

Hospital beds were almost full during the previous waves of the virus, says doctor

A UAE-funded hospital is under construction to help soften the blow of what doctors in Gaza are calling a “fourth wave” of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We felt it necessary to expand the existing bed capacity to deal with the pandemic because in the first and second wave, hospital beds were almost full and we were barely able to provide safe medical services for coronavirus patients,” Dr Yousef Fawzi Al Aqqad, general director of Gaza’s European Hospital, told The National.

Gaza is home to two million people and is about 15 times smaller than the West Bank. Yet, it has been repeatedly scoring higher in its number of active coronavirus cases relative to the rest of the occupied territories, according to World Health Organisation figures.

Dr Al Aqqad, who heads the new hospital, believes having an independent facility to deal specifically with coronavirus cases is mandatory for efficient patient care given the high number of cases Gaza is witnessing.

“We have until now received more than 50 trucks fully loaded with equipment and we are waiting for another set of trucks in the coming weeks,” he said.

“The trucks’ arrival requires a lot of time. We hope and wish for the different parties involved to facilitate their entry so we can finish preparing this hospital quickly before the fourth wave hits.”

The new facility will contain 210 beds, including 56 in the intensive care unit and 15 for emergency use. It will also have a respiratory and electricity supply, a laboratory and radiology department.

“It will be able to offer all services, from A to Z, for coronavirus patients,” said Dr Al Aqqad.

Gaza has received more than 768,590 doses of the vaccine but only about 400,000 people have been partially or completely vaccinated.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health has announced a month-long lottery programme to motivate reluctant Gazans to take the vaccine. Ten vaccinated individuals aged over 55 are awarded $200 every day.

Updated: October 19th 2021, 12:11 PM