Palestinian PM: We may close border with Jordan in coming days

Shtayyeh warned that the virus is expected to spread quickly.

A policeman checks the identity card of a Palestinian entering to the city of Bethlehem amid coronavirus precautions (photo credit: MUSSA ISSA QAWASMA/REUTERS)
A policeman checks the identity card of a Palestinian entering to the city of Bethlehem amid coronavirus precautions
(photo credit: MUSSA ISSA QAWASMA/REUTERS)
As the coronavirus outbreak spreads through Bethlehem, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh stated on Monday that the Palestinian Authority is coordinating with Jordan about possibly closing the bridges connecting Jordan to Israel and the PA "in the coming days," according to the Palestinian WAFA news agency.
 
"We might be forced, in coordination with the Israeli side, to close the bridge [crossing] in the coming days, and hopefully we will not have to do that," said Shtayyeh, according to WAFA. Those who are in the PA and want to leave and those who are in Jordan and want to return will be given warning beforehand and given time to cross before the borders are closed.
Shtayyeh also announced a new infection in Bethlehem. Some 137 tests were being examined on Monday afternoon. A new hospital in Bethlehem is equipped to deal with the coronavirus outbreak.
The Palestinian prime minister warned that the virus is expected to spread quickly. On Monday afternoon, a PA spokesperson announced five new cases of the coronavirus, with four of them in Bethlehem and one in Tulkarm, the first case outside of Bethlehem in the PA. These bring the total number of cases to 25.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas declared a "state of emergency" in the Palestinian territories for 30 days on Sunday.
The authority on Sunday closed all mosques in the Bethlehem area to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Bethlehem has been in lockdown since last Thursday, when the PA Health Ministry confirmed the first seven cases of coronavirus in the city and in neighboring Beit Jala. 
Ibrahim Ramadan, the PA governor of Nablus, the largest Palestinian city, on Sunday ordered the closure of all coffee shops and wedding halls in the city. He said he was awaiting a fatwa (Islamic religious decree) from the mufti of Jerusalem regarding the closure of all mosques as well. The PA was also considering releasing some prisoners to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Ramadan said.

Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this report.