Palestinian authorities have extended the state of emergency in the West Bank through at least December 3 in efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak. The measure grants authorities the power to enact localized lockdowns in areas witnessing a spike in COVID-19 cases. Social gatherings, including weddings, funerals, and conferences, remain banned until further notice.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) has previously eased restrictions on business activity in the West Bank. Businesses are permitted to operate from 07:00-23:59 (local time) daily, including on Fridays and Saturdays, whilst following strict hygiene protocols issued by the Ministry of Health. Friday prayers have resumed in public squares; individuals are required to wear face masks and observe social distancing regulations. In addition, restaurants, cafes sports clubs, and gyms have reopened to operate at 50 percent capacity.
Authorities in the Gaza Strip previously shortened the territory's curfew to run from 20:00-07:00 in all governorates; however, a 24-hour curfew remains in locations where COVID-19 infection rates are high. During curfew hours, residents are required to stay at home unless shopping for essential goods. All nonessential businesses, schools, mosques, and cafes, throughout Gaza are closed during curfew hours. Social gatherings remain banned in all governorates. Face coverings or masks must be worn by all in public and social distancing must be observed. Travelers arriving in Gaza are required to quarantine for 21 days in a government-run facility.
As of Wednesday, November 11, there have been 54,422 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 533 associated fatalities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected.
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). Since then, human-to-human transmission of the virus has been confirmed.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Some patients may experience other symptoms such as body pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell or a rash on skin or discoloration of fingers or toes. These symptoms (in most cases mild) appear gradually. Generally, most patients (around 80 percent) recover from the disease without being hospitalized
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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