Palestinian Health Ministry bans visitors from entering its West Bank territories, shutters all schools, mosques and churches in Jesus’ traditional birthplace after virus discovered at Beit Jala hotel where South Korean pilgrims stayed; all sporting, cultural events also canceled for next 14 days

Palestinian police close off the area around the Angel Hotel in Beit Jala, where coronavirus is suspected
Palestinian police close off the area around the Angel Hotel in Beit Jala, where coronavirus is suspected

The Palestinian Health Ministry on Thursday banned visitors from entering its territory in the West Bank and placed the city of Bethlehem on partial lock down due to a suspected coronavirus outbreak at a hotel in adjacent Beit Jala.

All schools, mosques and churches in the Bethlehem area have been closed for 14 days and all conferences and cultural and sporting events have been postponed for at least two weeks.

The hotel at which the suspected outbreak was discovered has been designated as a quarantine site and staff at the hotel have now been placed in isolation.

The ministry said in a statement that it was awaiting the results of the tests for the virus, which would quickly be made available to the public. It called on the Palestinian people to obey instructions and act with restraint.

 חשד למקרי קורונה ברשות הפלסטינית
The Angel Hotel in Beit Jala, where the coronavirus is suspected to have broken out


Palestinian news outlet Al-Quds reported Thursday that the suspected outbreak was at the Angel Hotel in Beit Jala which was visited last month by a group of South Korean pilgrims whose members were later found to be infected with the virus.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Stayyeh has also issued closure orders for every restaurant and site known to have been visited by the pilgrims who visited Nablus, Jericho, Bethlehem and Hebron.

The PA warned that business owners who did not obey the closure order or who tried to conceal information would face penalties.

תייר עם מסכה ב נתב"ג מחכה ל טיסה חזרה ל דרום קוריאה נגיף קורונה
South Korean tourists wait at Ben-Gurion Airport for a flight home amid the coronavirus crisis (Photo: AP)


In Jericho, residents set fire to tires in protest amid fears that the virus would spread in the PA.

Gaza also saw violent protests as people protested against the evacuation of a hospital in order to provide a quarantine area for people suspected of carrying the virus.

Several Palestinians returned to the Gaza Strip in February from Far East countries affected by the coronavirus.

They were placed in isolation in a compound erected under the supervision of the World Health Organization representative in Gaza.

Meanwhile, Israel on Wednesday announced that it has extended its compulsory 14-day quarantine to nationals returning from Spain, Germany, France, Switzerland and Austria.

Travelers returning to Israel from China, Singapore, Thailand, Japan, Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea, and Italy have already been instructed to do the same.

As reported by Ynetnews