John Hopkins Covid-19 map removes Palestine, researchers observe

  • ***(Image credit: John Hopkins University)

Rita Giacaman, the director of Birzeit University’s Institute of Community and Public Health, and Rania Muhareb, a legal advocate at the Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq, observed that the Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) Covid-19 map has merged the data recorded by the Palestinian Ministry of Health with the entry for Israel.

Giacaman and Muhareb say that the John Hopkins website initially listed the numbers recorded by the Palestinian Ministry of Health under its entry for Palestine, separately from Israel’s data. Later on, however, John Hopkins replaced the entry “Palestine” with “occupied Palestinian Territories (oPt).” The next day, the oPt entry was removed, and its figures were merged with the entry for Israel.

Giacaman and Muhareb noted in a letter published by The Lancet on March 26, 2020, that, as a result, Palestinians are no longer able to use the dashboard to track the spread of Covid-19 in Palestine, asserting that this undermines the credibility of the CSSE dashboard.

The authors emphasize that this move not only further entrenches the erasure of Palestine from the world map but also weakens global scientific cooperation and solidarity.

Since March 15, 2020, Giacaman and Muhareb have contacted CSSE regarding this matter, yet they have not received a response as of April 9, 2020.

The constantly updated world map and dashboard, published by Johns Hopkins University, has become a vital resource for everyone who wishes to track the COVID-19 pandemic. It has faulted, however, by erasing Palestinians of the map.