Israel has imposed a lockdown on the city of Bethlehem over coronavirus fears.

The move came after Palestinian authorities confirmed seven cases of coronavirus in the Bethlehem area south of Jerusalem on Thursday and announced a 30-day state of emergency and a two-week ban on tourists including closing down the Church of the Nativity.

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The Palestinian health ministry said the cases had first been detected at a hotel in the Bethlehem area.

All seven of those infected were being treated in quarantine, the Palestinian health ministry said.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh also explained that the measures were essential to contain the disease.

All but essential travel between Palestinian governorates was now prohibited, while all schools and educational facilities would close, he said.

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Public parks and tourist sites would close while large sporting events, conferences and other major gatherings were cancelled, Shtayyeh added.

In a statement by the Israeli defense ministry, he said: All Israelis and Palestinians “are forbidden from entering or leaving the city”, adding that the lockdown had been imposed “in coordination with the Palestinian Authority”.”We have decided to prevent the entry of tourists for a period of 14 days and to prevent hotels in all cities from receiving foreigners,” tourism minister Rula Maayah told AFP.

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