Covid-19: Top Palestinian official Saeb Erekat in ‘serious’ condition

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BBC.COM-image copyrightReuters

image captionSaeb Erekat had a lung transplant three years ago that makes him more vulnerable to Covid-19

Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat is in a “serious but stable” condition with Covid-19, the Israeli hospital treating him has said.

Earlier on Sunday Mr Erekat was transferred from his home in the West Bank to Hadassah University Hospital – Ein Karem, near Jerusalem.

Mr Erekat tested positive for coronavirus earlier this month.

The Palestine Liberation Organisation said the 65-year-old needed urgent care because had a lung transplant in 2017.

In a statement, the hospital said he arrived in “critical condition” and had to be given “high-flow oxygen”.

“Mr Erekat is receiving top-notch professional care like all serious corona patients at Hadassah, and the staff will do everything to assist his recovery,” the hospital’s director, Prof Zeev Rothstein, said. “At Hadassah, we treat every patient as if he were our only patient.”

Mr Erekat has been a key negotiator in peace talks with Israel for many years.

He was one of the architects of the Oslo Accords, a series of agreements signed by Israel and Palestinians in the 1990s.

In a statement on Sunday, the PLO said: “Following his contraction of Covid-19, and due to the chronic health problems he faces in the respiratory system, Dr Erekat’s condition now requires medical attention in a hospital.”

Witnesses told Reuters news agency that they saw Mr Erekat on a stretcher outside his home in Jericho, being placed in an Israeli ambulance.

His brother Saber Erekat told AFP news agency: “His situation is not good.”

Mr Erekat’s admission to hospital comes as Israel eases a nationwide lockdown that has been in place for a month, after seeing a significant decline in the number of new Covid cases.

It was the second national lockdown since the start of the pandemic.

People in Israel are now permitted to go more than 1km (0.6 miles) from their homes for non-essential purposes, nurseries are reopening, and restaurants are able to serve takeaway food.

Beaches, nature reserves and national parks have also reopened for visitors.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his cabinet that the measures had been a “success” – but that the country’s exit from the lockdown needed to be “gradual, responsible, careful and controlled” to avoid an additional lockdown.

 

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