Viruses know no boundaries.

To assure the best possible healthcare during the coronavirus crisis, Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) are working in close coordination, says Major Yotam Shefer, head of the International Department of the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT).

“In the last three weeks, COGAT and the Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria, in collaboration with the Israeli Ministry of Health, have been working to aid the Palestinian Authority in dealing with the outbreak of the coronavirus,” Shefer told reporters on a conference call earlier today.

Thus far, Israel has delivered 400 medical kits and 500 protective equipment kits to PA healthcare and security workers specifically for the coronavirus epidemic.

In addition, joint online tutorials and professional medical workshops have been organized for Israeli and PA medical staff in how to deal with infected patients.

As of today (March 18), Israel has reported 427 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 416 of which are active. The Palestinian Ministry of Health reports 44 cases: 40 in Bethlehem, two in Tulkarem and one each in Jericho and Ramallah.

“Right now, all Palestinian corona patients are being treated in Palestinian hospitals,” said Shefer.

The PA has put Bethlehem under closure to contain the spread of the virus, Shefer said. Over the last two weeks, COGAT and dozens of embassies and consulates arranged the safe passage of 1,000 international citizens staying in Bethlehem to Ben-Gurion International Airport for return to their home countries.

Healthcare workers and patients from the PA-administered territories who need medical treatment in Israel hospitals are entering Israel daily, as well as workers in agriculture, construction and industry whose employers can guarantee them a place to stay within Israel until the crisis wanes, he added.

“We are trying to prepare for every possible scenario,” he said.

“The health of all citizens in the region stands above all and is our top priority,” Shefer concluded. “We will continue to act in collaboration with the PA in this joint effort. We are taking many significant efforts to eradicate the spread of the virus, including movement restriction. I’m full of hope that we will succeed for the sake of the health of us all.”