Good news rarely comes out of Gaza. But for the first six months of the coronavirus pandemic, this tiny Palestinian territory was by one crucial measurement a global success story.
As the virus spread rampantly around the rest of the world, Gaza’s grotesque isolation counted, for once, in its favour. It was virus-free. While there were cases, they all came from outside.
The virus was controlled by a rigorous quarantine process, with individuals isolated for three weeks and tight travel restrictions. Furthermore, lockdown was - to put it mildly - nothing new in Gaza.
It seemed close to miraculous. Then, on 24 August, came the moment Gaza had been dreading. A mother who had travelled to Jerusalem from Gaza so her child could receive cardiac treatment fell ill. Contact tracing immediately went into action, and four members of her family in Gaza also tested positive. The virus was in the community.
Less than two weeks later, the number of cases is growing exponentially. As of Thursday, there have been 581 cases. Within the last 24 hours, 98 new cases have been confirmed.
Since there are few testing kits, there is every reason to believe that this is a serious underestimate. Five Palestinians in Gaza have died so far. There are valid fears that this number could soar.