Palestinian Authority extends West Bank virus lockdown amid surge
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Palestinian Authority extends West Bank virus lockdown amid surge

More than 4,570 people have tested positive for coronavirus since the first recorded case in the West Bank, and 17 have died

A paramedic from the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Health disinfects Palestinian laborers to help contain the coronavirus, as they exit a checkpoint after returning from work in Israel, near the West Bank village of Nilin, west of Ramallah, on April 7, 2020. (Nasser Nasser/AP)
A paramedic from the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Health disinfects Palestinian laborers to help contain the coronavirus, as they exit a checkpoint after returning from work in Israel, near the West Bank village of Nilin, west of Ramallah, on April 7, 2020. (Nasser Nasser/AP)

The Palestinian Authority announced Tuesday that it was prolonging a lockdown in the West Bank for five days, following a spike in coronavirus infections.

The lockdown, which began on Friday, will be extended until Sunday evening, PA spokesman Ibrahim Melhem said.

More than 4,570 people have tested positive for the coronavirus since the first infection was recorded in the West Bank, and 17 have died, according to the Palestinian Authority health ministry.

A week ago, those figures stood at 2,356 cases and five deaths.

The PA imposed a full West Bank lockdown after the first coronavirus cases were identified in early March, lifting it at the end of May.

PA officials have consistently blamed the movement of Palestinians between Israel and the West Bank as a primary source of infections.

On Monday PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh demanded that Israel seal all crossings between the West Bank and Israel to prevent the further spread of the virus. However, Israel had already announced last month that crossings would close to Palestinian workers at the end of the month.

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh speaks during a press conference at the Foreign Press Association in Ramallah, on June 9, 2020. (Abbas Momani/Pool Photo via AP)

Tens of thousands of West Bank Palestinians travel to work in Israel as day laborers.

Eighteen percent of all virus cases in the West Bank were the result of those Palestinian workers returning from inside Israel, while the rest of the cases were spread at weddings and funerals, Shtayyeh said.

On Sunday, the Israel Defense Forces repelled a large number of Palestinians seeking to enter Israel from the West Bank through gaps in the border fence by Tulkarem. Palestinian media reports said that the crowds were dispersed with tear gas and rubber-coated bullets, and that the Palestinians were workers seeking to enter Israel illegally to reach their places of employment.

Israel has reported 31,886 cases of the virus and 342 deaths.

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