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PA extends state of emergency amid fears of rising coronavirus cases

April 3, 2020 at 1:25 pm

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, West Bank on 28 January 2020 [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas announced he has issued a decree extending the state of emergency for another month in the occupied territories, Wafa news agency reported.

The move comes in an effort to enable the health and security services to bring the spread of the coronavirus under control amid fears of a rise in the number of cases.

“We have decided to extend the state of emergency for 30 days throughout the occupied Palestinian territories to confront the coronavirus outbreak,” read Article (1) of the presidential decree.

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“The competent authorities shall continue to take all necessary measures to tackle the risks arising from the pandemic outbreak, protect the public health, and bring about security and stability,” read Article (2) of the presidential decree.

As part of the new measures, a curfew will be put in place from 5pm to 10am with shops ordered to close in line with the new rules. Pharmacies are exempt.

The total number of confirmed cases in the occupied territories rose to 161 last night after a 60-year-old resident of Beitunia town, west of Ramallah, tested positive for the virus. The resident had contracted the virus after being in touch with a worker who tested positive after returning from his workplace in Israel.

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Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said that the continued movement of workers between Israel and the West Bank was a “severe blow” to his government’s efforts to curb the spread of the virus.

About 15 to 20 per cent of employed Palestinians work in Israel or in illegal settlements.