Israel is coordinating the evacuation of hundreds of tourists from the Palestinian Authority due to the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the city of Bethlehem, the Israeli Defence Ministry’s Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) said on Saturday.
“In the past two days, COGAT has coordinated the departure of dozens of foreign #tourist groups from the Palestinian territories to #Ben_Gurion_Airport and back to their home countries, in collaboration with the relevant foreign consulates and representative offices”, COGAT wrote on Twitter.
COGAT is also cooperating with the Israeli security forces, police, foreign and health ministries, as well as the National Security Council to coordinate the evacuation process and “protect the health and wellbeing of the region’s residents”.
Earlier on Saturday, Palestinian government spokesman Ibrahim Melhem told Sputnik that the number of COVID-19 cases in the Palestinian Authority increased to 19.
On March 6, Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett shut down entry to and exit from Bethlehem. A day earlier, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced the state of emergency due to coronavirus outbreak in the city which prompted the authorities to shut down schools and universities for 30 days.
On a global scale, as of Saturday, the number of coronavirus cases has topped 100,000, with more than 90 countries reporting infections. In addition, over 3,500 people have already died from the disease, while more than 58,000 have fully recovered.