‘Made-in-Gaza’ device fights coronavirus spread

Palestinian entrepreneur Heba Al-Hindi demonstrates a locally designed and manufactured smart sterilization device in Gaza City. (AFP)
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Updated 30 October 2020

‘Made-in-Gaza’ device fights coronavirus spread

  • Innovation Makers has sold dozens of machines to supermarkets, bakeries and restaurants

GAZA CITY: Entering a Gaza City restaurant, customers are welcomed by a multi-tasking disinfection machine designed by a Palestinian businesswoman to curb the spread of the coronavirus in the crisis-hit enclave.
Spraying hand sanitizer while taking the person’s temperature, the 2-meter-high device offers an all-in-one disinfection experience.
If the body temperature is too high, a red signal will light up. Otherwise the restaurant door opens automatically to allow the customer in.
“In Gaza, we have basic devices imported from abroad to measure temperatures, and others to disinfect, but our devices combine multiple technologies in one,” creator Heba Al-Hindi told AFP.
The densely populated Palestinian coastal enclave, under an Israeli-enforced blockade since 2007, was initially largely spared by Covid-19 when the pandemic broke out.
But dire economic conditions, a poor health care system and chronic electricity shortages, partly caused by the blockade, made Gaza especially vulnerable to the virus.
Confirmed infections in the enclave have topped 5,440 with 31 deaths.
“When Covid-19 reached the Gaza Strip, I told myself I had to find a way to fight its spread,” said Hindi.
“Then came the idea of creating a sanitiser and I designed these smart machines.”
The 37-year-old mathematics graduate heads Innovation Makers, a company that has created eight anti-Covid products, including a blue and yellow robot-like machine to appeal to children.
She said the project makes money but that “our focus is not on the profit.”

HIGHLIGHT

Spraying hand sanitizer while taking the person’s temperature, the 2-meter-high device offers an all-in-one disinfection experience.

“We’re focusing on a Palestinian product and a Palestinian invention from within the siege in the Gaza Strip, to show this invention to the world.”
Innovation Makers has sold dozens of machines to supermarkets, bakeries and restaurants, for between $550 and $1,500 depending on the technology used.
The products have been patented by the Ramallah-based Palestinian Economy Ministry, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
The company finds spare parts for the devices on the local market but is barred by Israel from exporting the “Made in Gaza” creations, slowing down Hindi’s ambitions.
Management at the Taboun restaurant is delighted with the disinfecting machines they bought.
“The device is remarkable,” said Matar Matar, hospitality manager at the Gaza eatery, adding that he found out about it on social media.
Customers are happy to see that “something new is being developed in Gaza,” he said.
Computer engineer Mohammad Natat, 23, said he was proud to be part of the team that created the machine.
“I had the opportunity to take part in this work and be creative in my field,” he said. “It was a huge chance to have some work.”
Around half of Gaza’s population is out of work, two-thirds of them young people, according to the World Bank, and more than two thirds of residents depend on humanitarian aid.


Lebanon to ease virus curbs from Monday

Updated 29 November 2020

Lebanon to ease virus curbs from Monday

  • Schools would also reopen but with some classes still held online
  • Restaurants will reopen at 50% capacity, but bars and nightclubs will remain closed and weddings prohibited

BEIRUT: Lebanon is from Monday to gradually ease restrictions imposed two weeks ago after a surge in coronavirus infections, in a bid to relieve its struggling economy in time for the festive season, officials said.
Acting health minister Hamad Hassan told reporters the country “will gradually reopen from Monday” to give citizens and businesses a respite ahead of Christmas and end of year holidays.
He said restaurants will reopen at 50 percent capacity, but bars and nightclubs will remain closed and weddings prohibited, while an overnight curfew will start from 11 p.m. instead of 5pm.
Schools would also reopen but with some classes still held online, Hassan said after a meeting of Lebanon’s coronavirus task force.
He warned that the “danger” of a rise in infections still exists and that the hoped-for results to stem the virus thanks to the curbs would not be known for several days.
Before the two-week restrictions went into force in mid-November, bed occupancy in hospital intensive care units was between 80 and 90 percent while “now it stands at 65-70 percent,” Hassan said.
Since February, the country has recorded more than 125,000 Covid-19 cases, including around 1,000 deaths.
Lebanon, with a population of around six million, had been recording some 11,000 coronavirus infections on average each week before mid-November, according to the health ministry.
A first country-wide lockdown imposed in March was effective in stemming the spread of the virus, before restrictions were gradually lifted as summer beckoned people outdoors.
But the number of cases surged following a monstrous blast at Beirut’s port on August 4 that killed more than 200 people, wounded at least 6,500 and overwhelmed hospitals.
The blast and the pandemic have exacerbated tensions in the Mediterranean country which has been grappling with its worst economic crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war.