Authorities in the West Bank announced that the lockdown in place due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic would be extended until the evening of Sunday, July 12. All West Bank governorates, towns, and villages will be closed off, with businesses closed and movement restricted. However, pharmacies, bakeries, and supermarkets will remain open. The lockdown, initially imposed for five days on Friday, July 3, follows a spike in COVID-19 cases in the territory, with 82% of cases reportedly linked to weddings and funerals. The city of Hebron is the worst affected in the West Bank, accounting for 75% of cases and two thirds of fatalities. However, the Palestinian Authority, which governs the West Bank, has blamed the rise in cases on individuals crossing between Israel and the West Bank and has asked Israel to close the borders.
As of Wednesday, July 8, health authorities have confirmed 4647 COVID-19 cases with 18 associated deaths in the West Bank and Gaza. Further spread of the virus is expected in 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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