Palestinians close Bethlehem after virus spike

AFP , Saturday 27 Jun 2020

A worker of the Palestinian Bethlehem municipality in cooperation with the popular committee of Aida Refugee Camp, dressed in PPE (personal protective equipment), sterilises a street against Covid-19 coronavirus on June 25, 2020 in the Aida Refugee Camp near in the West Bank city of Bethlehem. (Photo: AFP)

The governor of Bethlehem announced Saturday the temporary closure of the Palestinian city to contain the spread of coronavirus after a sharp rise in infections in the occupied West Bank.

The 48-hour closure will begin Monday from 6.00am (0300 GMT), governor Kamil Hmeid said in a statement.

The closure comes after the West Bank cities of Hebron and Nablus were closed last week for five days and 48 hours respectively.

The two cities, alongside Bethlehem, have recorded a major spike in new coronavirus cases.

The Palestinian health ministry announced 67 new cases of the COVID-19 respiratory illness on Saturday, of which 33 were in the Bethlehem district.

The ministry has recorded a total of 1,552 virus cases in the West Bank, including two deaths.

Like the West Bank, Israel has also recorded a recent surge in coronavirus cases.

Meanwhile, in the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian enclave blockaded by Israel, 72 people have tested positive for coronavirus, with one death.

Bethlehem, where Christians believe Christ was born, was initially put into lockdown in March, after recording the first coronavirus case in the West Bank.

Schools were closed and non-essential travel and activities were that month banned, as part of the efforts to tackle the virus.

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