Palestinians declare state of emergency over coronavirus
UNTV News • March 6, 2020 • 394
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared a 30-day state of emergency on Thursday (March 5) and Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity was closed following the discovery of seven cases of coronavirus in the traditional birthplace of Jesus.
The decree was announced by Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh, who decided to close all schools, colleges and kindergartens and to cancel foreign tourist reservations.
“We have decided to declare a state of emergency in all Palestinian areas to confront the danger of the coronavirus and prevent it from spreading,” Shtayyeh said on Thursday night.
Speaking in Ramallah, Shtayyeh said the Palestinian Authority was also considering closing all border crossings.
The precautions were announced after Health Minister Mai Alkaila said authorities had identified seven positive cases, all of them Palestinian employees at Bethlehem’s Angel Hotel.
Health officials said they suspected the seven, the first reported cases of the illness in the occupied Palestinian territories, contracted it from tourists who had stayed at the hotel recently.
The Latin Patriarchate of the Holy Land said the Church of the Nativity would be closed for two weeks, along with other churches and mosques in the Bethlehem area.
A ban on foreign guests at West Bank hotels will also last two weeks, the tourism ministry said.
Israel’s Defence Minister Naftali Bennett ordered the Israeli military to close off Bethlehem, in cooperation with the Palestinian Authority, barring movement of Israelis and Palestinians with effect from Thursday evening.
The Islamist group Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, said Shtayyeh’s announcement covered only the West Bank.
The measures were a particular blow to Bethlehem, where businesses depend largely on visitors to the church, built on the site where Christians believe Jesus was born.
Just three months ago the mayor and hoteliers in Bethlehem were hailing what promised to be the best Christmas for two decades, with visitor numbers in 2019 numbers surpassing the 1.5 million people who came in 2018. (Reuters)
Tokyo could declare a state of emergency if the coronavirus situation in the Japanese capital deteriorates further, its governor warned on Friday (July 31).
Yuriko Koike said Tokyo had confirmed 463 new cases on Friday – another single-day record – and implored residents to follow health guidelines to contain the spread of the virus.
“If the situation worsens, Tokyo would have to think about issuing its own state of emergency,” Koike told a news conference.
The Japanese government lifted the nationwide state of emergency in late May after Japan appeared to have contained the outbreak, touting its mask-wearing habits and health system as some of the factors that helped it fare better than Europe and the United States.
But the virus has made a worrying resurgence. The number of daily new cases in Japan hit a new record on Thursday (July 30), with infections spreading rapidly not only in Tokyo but also in other regions. (Reuters)
Japan has indicated that the current coronavirus situation in the country does not require a return of a state of emergency, according to the government’s top spokesman on Thursday (July 30).
Asked about the record number of cases from a day earlier exceeding 1,000 for the first time, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga repeated that the current situation did not warrant a state of emergency, which would restrict economic activity.
“On the other hand, there has been a rise in the number of cases, including among older people,” he told a news conference. “We will continue to monitor the situation closely.”
According to public broadcaster NHK, Japan saw a record increase of 1,264 confirmed COVID-19 cases on Wednesday (July 29) alone.
The Nikkei business daily reported Thursday that Tokyo plans to urge shorter operating hours for restaurants and karaoke parlors in August to deal with the recent spike in infections. (Reuters)
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