The Palestinian Authority has announced a five-day lockdown of the West Bank as coronavirus cases there surge. The lockdown, which will begin on Friday, comes as the number of infections in the West Bank rose to 2,435. Ten people have died, 12 remain in a serious condition and three are on ventilators. Seventy-eighty per cent of the total number of cornonavirus cases in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem have come in the last two weeks, the Palestinian Health Ministry says. In an announcement last night, the PA ordered all business – except supermarkets and pharmacies – to shut from Friday. Public sector workers will be asked to remain at home and non-essential travel will also be barred. The PA government spokesman, Ibrahim Milhim, appeared to lay the blame for the lockdown on falling public compliance with public health restrictions. “As the government sees it, the length of the lockdown will correlate directly with the level of public health consciousness of its citizens, the latter of which has not been in evidence in recent weeks. That is what caused this relapse,” Milhim said.

The original lockdown in the West Bank began to be lifted in late May, although recent weeks have seen partial lockdowns – in Nablus, Hebron and Bethlehem, for instance – as infections spiked in local areas. On Sunday, the Palestinian health minister, Mai al-Kaila, warned of hundreds of undetected cases in Hebron and said the number of cases there was doubling every four days. Israel this week once again closed checkpoints, effectively barring Palestinian workers from commuting between jobs in the country and their homes in the West Bank. Some 60,000 Palestinians entered Israel on Sunday ahead of the closure. They will not be able to return to the West Bank for two weeks. Read full article