Eerie footage has emerged of the emptied city of Bethlehem as Israel and the Palestinian authority imposed a total coronavirus lockdown just weeks before Easter.
The city – believed to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ – has turned into a ghost town after Palestinians in the city tested positive for COVID-19.
Video shared on Twitter today reveals the neighbourhood where shops and restaurants are closed and citizens to stay at home.
The driver goes through narrow roads and market squares but only about eight people are seen walking on the street.
Easter is a popular time in the city for tourists hoping to visit the holy city but this now looks unlikely, with visitors banned from entering Bethlehem.
It also started widespread testing and quarantine for people suspected of carrying the virus.
Palestinian government spokesman Ibrahim Melhim said his government is operating on a "multi-pronged strategy" in order to stem the spread of the disease.
The Church of the Nativity is being closed indefinitely over fears of COVID-19.
“We respect the instructions of the relevant authorities,” said Wadie Abunassar, an adviser to Catholic church officials in the Holy Land.
“Safety comes first.”
The virus has affected Muslim worship across the Middle East.
Saudi Arabia has banned pilgrimages from entering the Great Mosque of Mecca in early March and closed the holy site for sanitation.
Footage taken from the upper floor inside the mosque – which was visited by pop icon Akon days before the shutdown – shows cleaners armed with dusters and disinfectant sprays sterilising the marble floor surrounding Kaaba.
The coronavirus pandemic has killed 8,270 people and infected more than 200,000 globally as of today.
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