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Palestine plans to close crossings with Jordan due to coronavirus

People wear masks to protect themselves from coronavirus (Covid-19) in East Jerusalem on 6 March 2020. [Mostafa Alkharouf - Anadolu Agency]
People wear masks to protect themselves from coronavirus (Covid-19) in Jerusalem on 6 March 2020 [Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency]

Jordan and Palestine are considering closing their common borders as the number of those affected by the coronavirus continues to climb, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh announced yesterday.

They may also request Israel to close the Allenby (King Hussein) border crossing, which spans the Jordan River and connects the occupied West Bank with Jordan.

Speaking at the weekly cabinet meeting in Ramallah, Shtayyeh expressed concern about the transmission of the disease, and said that any border closures and moves would be done in coordination with Israel and Jordan.

He noted that the governments are in constant contact to coordinate their steps in fighting coronavirus.

"We might be forced, in coordination with the Israeli side, to close the bridge [crossing] in the coming days," said Shtayyeh.

READ: Palestine doctor in Wuhan calls for unite against coronavirus

The bridge is the sole designated exit and entry point for West Bank Palestinians traveling in and out of the Israeli occupied territories.

The plans on the new measure came shortly after a Palestinian Authority spokesperson reported five new cases of the coronavirus, with four new cases in Bethlehem and one new case in the northern West Bank city of Tulkarm, bringing the total number of cases to 25.

"We hopefully will not need to do that," he said.

Ramallah Governor Leila Ghannam today issued an order closing all Ramallah restaurants and cafes, the primary attraction of the city, in order to prevent further spread of the disease, along with a suspension on all indoor and public gatherings.

According to Wafa, the decision went into effect today at dawn, and will remain in force indefinitely.

"The decisions I am taking are based on a reassessment of the situation," she said adding that she fears the health system will struggle to cope with an extended outbreak. ​

READ: Israel to require quarantine for anyone coming into the country

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CoronavirusIsraelJordanMiddle EastNewsPalestine
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