The Palestinian Authority announced a 12-day tightening of the West Bank’s coronavirus restrictions on Saturday, but also said a $10m batch of vaccine doses would be arriving this week. The new measures will see the closure of nurseries and schools as well as an earlier start to the nighttime curfew. A complete lockdown is in place on Fridays and Saturdays, as well as a ban on weddings, parties and wakes. Nine Palestinians died from covid-19 complications over the weekend. The Palestinian prime minister, Mohammed Shtayyeh, did not say in his statement on Saturday where the new batch of vaccines is coming from but did say it was expected to arrive in the first week of March. The PA has also received 10,000 doses of the Russian-made Sputnik vaccine and 5,000 doses from Israel. The Gaza Strip has received some of the PA’s allocation and 20,000 doses from the UAE. The Israeli cabinet also formally approved at the weekend a programme, which has already commenced, to vaccinate over 100,000 Palestinians who work in Israel or on West Bank settlements. Ran Goldstein, executive director of Physicians for Human Rights Israel, called the decision to vaccinate Palestinian workers is “an essential and necessary step, and better late than never”. East Jerusalem Palestinians are already being vaccinated under the Israeli programme. Israel also announced on Sunday that it will provide vaccines to the international peacekeeping force stationed in Sinai. A controversial plan hatched by Benjamin Netanyahu to send vaccine doses to friendly countries was halted by the attorney general, who said the prime minister had failed to gain cabinet approval.
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