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State of Palestine: Church of the Nativity closes as Coronavirus precaution

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Published on 19 Mar 2020 / In News

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The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem has been closed on Thursday amid fears of the coronavirus spreading.

"Thousands of visitors came in the morning from different regions of the world to the Church of the Nativity," said Father Issa Saljea, Priest of the Orthodox Parish in the Church of the Nativity, as he added that the Church would be cleaned "for preventive action."

Footage showed several dozen visitors, with some wearing masks, visiting the Church before the door was closed. Palestinian authorities also moved to ban tourists from West Bank hotels as seven cases of the coronavirus were confirmed in the Palestinian territories. The Church closure and hotel ban are expected to last for 14 days, according to local reports.

Some mosques have also been closed in a bid to contain the outbreak.

"Even [if] it will cost us money, because it's tourism season, the situation [coronavirus outbreak] needs to be taken care of," said one resident, who supports the ban, despite the expected economic implications.

According to the latest reports by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), at least 97,500 people worldwide have been infected by the COVID-19 so far and over 3,300 people have died.

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