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A Muslim man wearing a mask as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus gives a speech during Friday prayer at the town of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on March 20, 2020.

SAID KHATIB/AFP/Getty Images

The Palestinian Health Ministry announced the first two cases of the coronavirus in the Gaza Strip early Sunday.

The ministry said the cases were two people who returned recently from Pakistan. It said they had been moved to isolation at a hospital in Rafah, a city in the southern Gaza Strip.

The development added to fears of a potential outbreak in the crowded enclave, which has an overstretched health care system after years of an Israeli-Egyptian blockade and Palestinian political division.

Story continues below advertisement

The blockade has rendered Gaza off limits to foreign tourists, and Israel and Egypt have shut their borders with the territory as part of measures aimed at containing the virus.

Palestinians returning home can still enter Gaza, but are sent to quarantine centres.

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