On Monday, May 4, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas extended to June 5 a state of emergency in the West Bank in an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Previous restrictions, such as a ban on nonessential travel, have been relaxed. Additionally, some businesses have been allowed to resume operations, and Palestinian laborers are permitted to resume work in Israel. Mosques and schools will remain closed during the period, and public gatherings are banned. As of Tuesday, May 5, there have been 362 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and two associated deaths in the Palestinian territories.
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Monday, May 4, that multiple restrictions imposed due to the COVID-19 outbreak will be relaxed. Residents are now allowed to visit relatives and travel anywhere within the country. Additionally, markets and shopping centers will be allowed to reopen later in the week, and schools will gradually reopen to resume their regular schedules.
Several businesses, including stores and restaurants, reopened on Sunday, April 26, as long as they operate under strict social distancing and sanitation measures. On the same day, officials at El Al Israel Airlines announced that the current passenger flight suspension would be extended by one week until Saturday, May 9. Over the coming weeks, the airline will reportedly operate special flights to and from select destinations in Europe and the US, including London (UK), Paris (France), and Miami (US).
As of April 18 workplaces are allowed to increase staffing levels from 15 percent to 30 percent, with more of the workforce able to return in some industries. Shops that sell electronics and household goods, opticians, and other stores, may reopen as long as strict social distancing measures are maintained. Malls and large markets are to remain closed. Individuals are also permitted to travel up to 500 m (1650 ft) from their homes and are permitted to exercise with one person. Outdoor prayers of up to ten people can be held, as long as there are 2 m (7 ft) between each person and everyone is wearing a mask. Netanyahu warned that previous restrictive measures may be reimplemented if infection rates increase.
Other restrictions remain in place, including the mandatory use of face masks in public. The Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem will remain closed during Ramadan and Muslim citizens are being asked to avoid family feasts and other associated gatherings. Ramadan began on Thursday, April 23, and is expected to end on Friday, May 22.
To date, there have been 16,268 cases of COVID-19 and 237 associated deaths in Israel. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected over the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the virus.
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