Erez crossing
Erez crossing Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

Gaza authorities on Saturday declared a new set of precautionary measures amid concerns about the spread of the novel coronavirus in the coastal enclave, the Xinhua news agency reports.

The Hamas-run “Ministry of Interior” in Gaza said the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt, and the Erez crossing with Israel will be shut down from Sunday.

Meanwhile, the “Health Ministry” in Gaza said in a press statement that schools and universities will continue to be closed until the end of March and that all citizens returning from outside Gaza will be placed in quarantine under strict supervision.

In addition, all public events will be suspended, the ministry statement added, urging locals to avoid gatherings.

The Gaza Strip is so far free of the novel coronavirus, but 38 cases have been confirmed in Palestinian Authority-assigned areas of Judea and Samaria, which is run by PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah faction.

Most of the cases of coronavirus in the PA have been recorded in the city of Bethlehem.

Abbas last week announced a month-long state of emergency after the first seven cases of coronavirus were identified in the PA.

The Israeli defense ministry subsequently announced it had imposed emergency measures on Bethlehem, with everybody "forbidden from entering or leaving the city".

The World Health Organization has warned that an outbreak of the deadly virus in Gaza could lead to a humanitarian disaster because of its weak healthcare system.

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