The Palestinian Authority on Saturday announced new measures to cope with a recent upsurge in the number of coronavirus infections.As of Monday, all public and private schools, universities and educational and vocational institutions will be closed for 12 days, PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said in a special announcement. The lockdown, however, does not apply to high school students. The measures, he said, include a strict ban on the movement of people between cities and villages in the West BankPrivate and public transportation will be banned between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m.During these hours, Shtayyeh said, all businesses will be closed. In addition, a full lockdown will be imposed in Palestinian communities on Fridays and Saturdays. Public gatherings – including weddings, parties and funerals – will also be prohibited, he added.Shtayyeh also announced that Arab Israelis would be banned from entering PA-controlled areas for the next 12 days.The PA government has purchased vaccines worth $10 million, Shtayyeh revealed. “The vaccines were supposed to arrive in mid-February, but they were delayed for reasons related to the company that produces them,” he said. “We expect the first batch of vaccines to arrive during the first week of March.”The PA premier did not name the company from where the vaccines were bought.Shtayyeh explained that the new measures come in light of an increase in the number of coronavirus infections – especially from the British and South African mutations – and a sharp increase in the occupancy rate of the intensive care units in Palestinian hospitals.The PA Ministry of Health on Saturday expressed deep concern over the 95% rise of the occupancy rate of intensive care units for coronavirus patients.Annan Rashid, a senior official with the ministry, described the situation in Palestinian hospitals as “dangerous” and warned that the health sector may not be able to deal with this significant increase.Rashid pointed out that the new mutations of the virus have begun affecting young people.Another Palestinian health official warned that the West Bank and Gaza Strip may see an increase in the number of deaths if Palestinians don’t adhere to safety measures.PA Health Minister Mai Alkaila was quoted over the weekend as saying that the epidemic situation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip was extremely worrisome due to a surge in coronavirus infections, higher hospital occupancy and increasing death rates among young people.Alkaila told the PA’s official news agency Wafa that new mutations of the coronavirus have been spreading at a worrying pace.The hospital bed occupancy rate for coronavirus patients in the West Bank has reached 58.6% of the overall available beds, she said, adding that occupancy of ventilators rose to 62%, the highest ever since the outbreak of the pandemic.