TAYBEH, Palestine - On Sunday, January 31, 2021, the Governor of Ramallah and al-Bireh Dr. Laila Ghannam announced a one-week lockdown in Taybeh after the discovery of cases of the new UK strain of COVID-19 in the village. Among those affected are the workers and residents of Beit Afram Elderly Home, a centre administered by the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
The lockdown came five days after the Taybeh Municipality imposed its own confinement measures that included the closure, among others, of churches, schools, kindergartens and hospitality businesses until February 2.
The new lockdown of January 31, in addition to the previous measures, saw the setting up of police roadblocks at the entrance of the village to enforce travel rules, except for humanitarian cases. Vehicle drivers in both the private and public sectors were asked not to travel from or to the village until the evening of Sunday, February 7.
On February 7, the lockdown was extended for another week until February 14, during which all citizens were advised to abide by health regulations and recommendations.
To date, there have been 139 COVID-19 cases recorded in Taybeh of which 23 are active. At the Beit Afram Elderly Home, 26 people have contracted the coronavirus; 17 elderly residents, five employees, two sisters of the Institute of Incarnate Word and two volunteers.
Not being able to admit the infected elderly to the hospitals, the Institute Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matarà, who oversees the Home, decided to transform the elderly home into an on-site centre to treat the COVID-19 patients, with the support of the Latin Patriarchate and under the supervision and guidelines of the Palestinian Ministry of Health and the Taybeh Municipality.
“We are in a dire need for men and women to work at the Beit Afram Elderly Home for the next two weeks,” appealed Fr. Johnny Abu Khalil, Parish priest of Taybeh on his Facebook account, after the employees of the Home tested positive for the virus. Many people answered from the different parishes and two were chosen to work at the Home. Two Sisters from the Institute of Incarnate Word were also sent to help with the work.
The work at the home during this last period was made possible by the generous donations from the governmental, charitable and non-profit Palestinian organizations as well as local Taybeh natives and those in the diaspora, friends of the Home and the parish.
“It is a really difficult time but everything will get better,” said Mother Superior Sr. María Pía. “I want to thank all the people who helped us during these days and brought us medicine, food and even called to ask how we were doing. I'm also thankful for the support of the Latin Patriarchate and my superior Sr. María del Cielo Leyes.”
The Beit Afram Elderly Home was established in 2005 by the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. Its mission is to offer a healthy environment for the elderly through its assistance of health care. Administered by the Patriarchate, the Home was overseen by the Community Filhos de Maria from 2011.
On August 15, 2020, the Community Filhos de Maria officially handed over the administration functions of the Home to the Institute Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matarà, the female branch of the Institute of Incarnate Word.