A Palestinian cycles near the Rafah border crossing with Egypt in the southern Gaza Strip on May 12, 2020, as it temporarily reopens from closure due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic for three days. (Photo: AFP)
Egypt reopened on Tuesday its border crossing with the Gaza Strip for the first time in nearly a month to allow hundreds of Palestinians stranded by the coronavirus to return home.
One-way traffic through the Rafah crossing into the coastal enclave will be allowed for three days – until Thursday, the Palestinian embassy in Cairo said.
All returnees will be put into mandatory 21-day quarantine, Hamas-run health ministry spokesman Ashraf Al-Qadra said.
Dozens of police officers dressed in personal protective equipment as well as intensive care ambulances waited at the border crossing in the southern enclave on Tuesday.
Among the returnees were people who had been outside Gaza for treatment, local Palestinian media reported.
The Rafah border crossing is the main gateway to the outside world for around 2 million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip, and is the only crossing point not controlled by Israel.
Egypt has occasionally opened Rafah to allow the passage of students and medical patients, as well as those with foreign passports.
At least 547 people have so far been infected by the coronavirus in the Palestinian territories, including 20 in the Gaza Strip. Four have died.
The Palestinian health minister announced on Tuesday that there have been no new COVID-19 cases for the fifth day in a row.