Bethlehem - Coronavirus Quarantine
Palestinian security forces wearing face masks block the entrance to the Angel Hotel in Beit Jala, near Bethlehem, Mar. 5, 2020. (Wissam Hashlamoun/Flash90)

Bethlehem was put in a quarantine Thursday under an order from Israel’s Defense Minister Naftali Bennett after seven COVID-19 coronavirus cases were confirmed in the area. 

The cases, the first ones on the West Bank, also prompted the Palestinian Authority to declare a state of emergency in territories under its control starting Friday morning.

The Palestinian health ministry said the cases had first been detected at a hotel in the Bethlehem area, where a group of Greek tourists later found to have been infected with coronavirus was staying.

Under the emergency measures, announced Thursday, all education facilities will remain closed and tourists will be banned from visiting the West Bank. 

Large public gatherings, strikes and protests will be banned, and non-essential travel between governorates will be restricted.

In Bethlehem, the Church of Nativity and other holy sites will be closed for two weeks. 

In February, a group of South Korean tourists, whose members were diagnosed with the disease, also visited the West Bank.

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