As more and more cases of coronavirus continue to mount in the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority' (PA) health ministry announced on Wednesday it will reimpose a full five-day lockdown on all areas and districts under its jurisdiction starting Friday.
The ministry said that the closure may be extended further if needed. During this period, all businesses under Palestinian governance will close expect food shops and pharmacies.
This significant tightening of the measures to curb the spread of the virus comes only a week and a half after the PA announced new restrictions due to the increase in the number of confirmed COVID-19 infections. The Palestinians also imposed targeted closures on the cities of Hebron and Nablus, the two major coronavirus hotspots on the West Bank.
The PA then prohibited Palestinian workers from crossing to or from Israel 14 days, much like during the first coronavirus outbreak in the territory several months ago. The Palestinian laborers will also be prohibited from working in Jewish West Bank settlements.
"We are currently facing Israeli annexation and a rise in the number of coronavirus patients," said Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh. "This wave is the result of people crossing from Israel and Jerusalem to the West Bank."
Shtayyeh also called on Arab Israelis to not enter the West Bank in the coming two weeks.
So far, 2,636 people have tested positive for the deadly pathogen in the Palestinian Authority and 6 patients have died due to complications of COVID-19, the disease caused by a coronavirus.
Confirmed cases in the Gaza Strip remain steady due to strict preventive measures implemented by Hamas, such as three-week isolation at designated compounds for everyone entering the coastal enclave.
Gaza has confirmed only 72 cases of coronavirus since the beginning of the outbreak, and there are currently 14 active patients in the Hamas-ruled territory.