The city of Bethlehem has been placed on lockdown after the first Palestinian cases of coronavirus were discovered there.

Israeli officials said the lockdown in Bethlehem had been imposed ‘in coordination with the Palestinian Authority’.

Palestinian authorities announced a month-long state of emergency Thursday night while the Israeli defence ministry said people were ‘forbidden from entering or leaving the city’.

All tourist buses to and from Bethlehem have been banned until further notice, Israeli police have said, with the Church of the Nativity closed until further notice.

The streets in Bethlehem and Ramallah were near empty on Friday morning, with most shops closed.

On Thursday, the Palestinian Authority announced that seven cases had been discovered linked to a hotel in the city.

PA Health Minister Mai al-Kailah said her ministry decided to conduct tests on employees who came in contact with Greek tourists who stayed at the hotel where they work.

Earlier, the PA said it had taken urgent precautionary measures against the coronavirus after discovering a number of suspected cases in Bethlehem.

The measures included closing all mosques and churches in Bethlehem for 14 days and cancelling all workshops, conferences, social and sports activities, Kailah said.

Meanwhile, Israel announced it has delivered 250 Coronavirus testing kits to the Palestinian Authority and held joint training sessions in order to help prevent the outbreak of the virus in Gaza and the West Bank (Judea and Samaria).

The Defense Ministry’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) announced it has been working for the past two weeks with the Palestinian Authority bringing medical professionals together for training for the professional study of the virus, the protection of medical personnel, and the testing of patients suspected of being virus carriers.

Israel releases special Coronavirus app as it takes unprecedented steps to delay spread of virus