Palestine extends state of emergency to combat Omicron

Palestine on Sunday extended its coronavirus-related state of emergency for another month to combat the spread of the new COVID-19 variant known as Omicron in the Palestinian territories.

In a decree issued by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the state of emergency was extended immediately, according to the official Palestinian news agency WAFA.

The state of emergency was first issued in March 2020 after the discovery of the first cases of coronavirus in the Palestinian territories, and has been extended or re-declared every month since then.

Abbas extended the state of emergency after the Palestinian ministry of health expressed deep concerns over the spread of the new variant after Israel announced on Friday that it had detected the first such case.

Following the Israeli announcement, the Palestinian epidemiology committee met on Sunday in the West Bank city of Ramallah and discussed the needed precautionary measures to prevent and combat the spread of the new variant.

In Gaza, the health ministry, run by the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), warned that the Omicron coronavirus variant is not far from the besieged Gaza Strip.

Magdi Duheir, the first-aid director in Gaza, told a news briefing that the health ministry “will take all needed precautionary measures in the coming days to prevent the spread of the new variant.”

He called on the people to return to preventive and safety measures, social distancing, and wearing masks.

“The Gaza Strip will be facing a critical stage in the coming days, and we are waiting for certification from the World Health Organization about the new variant,” Duheir said.

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