With 29 cases in Palestine, government steps up efforts to contain coronavirus

Foreign tourists wearing masks as a preventive measure against the coronavirus during a visit to the Church of the Nativity, in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on March 05, 2020. (Photo: Abedalrahman Hassan/APA Images)
Foreign tourists wearing masks as a preventive measure against the coronavirus during a visit to the Church of the Nativity, in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on March 05, 2020. (photo: Abedalrahman Hassan / APA Images)
Most tourists have been evacuated from Bethlehem and additional measures may be needed.

By Yumna Patel | Mondoweiss | Mar 10, 2020

Across the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza, 2,900 Palestinians were being held in self-quarantine — six of them in Jerusalem, and 605 people in Gaza who had recently returned from performing the Umrah pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.

Palestinians are holding their breath as they wait to see if the Palestinian Authority’s desperate attempts to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) to the city of Bethlehem is working.

Panic grew on Monday after the Palestinian Ministry of Health announced that there was one confirmed case of the virus in the northern occupied West Bank city of Tulkarem, the first case of the virus outside of Bethlehem.

Local media reported that an unidentified Palestinian man from Tulkarem contracted the virus while he was working in Israel, but that he was quarantined immediately along with his entire family — none of whom tested positive for the virus.

In Bethlehem, the number of confirmed cases had risen to 28 on Tuesday. All of the confirmed cases were reportedly being held in quarantine at different locations across the city, except for one who was reportedly being held in a hospital after his health deteriorated.

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