Palestinians detect first 3 cases of omicron in West Bank

December 16, 2021 GMT

RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — The Palestinian Health Ministry on Thursday said it has identified its first three cases of the omicron variant of the coronavirus in the occupied West Bank.

Ministry spokesman Kamal al-Shakrah said the three people live in different cities in the territory and had recently returned from abroad. He did not say which countries they had visited.

In response to the discovery, the ministry said medical teams were tracking down and testing those who had recently come into contact with the three people.

Israel, which captured the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast war, controls movement in and out of the West Bank.

The Israeli Health Ministry has so far identified at least 67 cases of the omicron variant and has imposed tight travel restrictions, including a ban on most foreign tourists entering the country.

Authorities in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, territories home to some 4.8 million Palestinians, have reported 4,858 deaths from the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic.

Around 2.5 million Palestinians from both territories have received one dose of either Pfizer/BioNTech, AstraZeneca, Sputnik V or Sinopharm vaccine, while just over 2.1 million Palestinians have received a second dose.