Monday, January 25, 2021

Palestine declares state of emergency over coronavirus, Bethlehem in lockdown

By E. Lins - March 07, 2020
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Health Care]

The Palestinian Authority (PA) declared a state of emergency in the cities of Bethlehem and Jericho after confirming the spread of coronavirus. The Health Ministry ordered the closure of all educational institutions and places of worship for the next 14 days.

The first four confirmed cases were identified in the Angel Hotel in Beit Jala, sparking the emergency precautions. In February, a group of Greek tourists who stayed in the hotel were diagnosed with the coronavirus upon their return home. The hotel is under quarantine.

The number of confirmed cases has jumped to 16 in the West Bank, according to the Times of Israel. In Israel, 21 people are infected with some 80,000 under quarantine.

Dr Tarif Ashur, spokesperson for the PA’s Health Ministry, told the Middle East Monitor that all tourists and the 21 employees of the hotel were tested and most of the results came out negative. The final results will be shared with the public after another round of tests.

As a public health control measure, the PA also called for all hotel reservations to be cancelled, as tourists are banned from entering Palestine, Wafa News reported.

The PA also ordered the closure of all restaurants and facilities that hosted the group in Bethlehem, Nablus, Hebron and Jericho, Ynet reported.

Among the places of worship, the Nativity Church, which is supposed to receive thousands of worshipers during Easter will close for visitations starting this week, an anonymous source told Al Jazeera.

Following general instructions by the PA Health Ministry, earlier this afternoon, some hotels and guesthouses in Bethlehem asked tourists to leave their facilities in fear of contamination.

The new coronavirus known as COVID-19 emerged in Wuhan, China, last December and has now spread to over 90 countries.

The 16 new cases in Palestine add to the more than 100,000 cases confirmed by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The virus is spread mainly through coughing and sneezing, as respiratory droplets are dispensed. The use of facemasks and hand sanitizer can help minimise the risk of contamination. Citizens are also advised to exert discretion and contact health authorities in case of influenza-like symptoms.


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