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Jerusalem’s Church of Holy Sepulchre shuts as Israel ups anti-virus measures

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Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre, believed by Christians to house Christ’s tomb, was shut Wednesday, as Israel tightened movement restrictions and the Palestinians announced their first novel coronavirus death.

The church, located in Jerusalem’s Old City, was closed shortly after 5:00 p.m. (1500 GMT), as Israel applied a series of new restrictions meant to curb the spread of the virus, including shutting down places of worship.

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“We have been informed of the closure. Our understanding is that it is for one week. We hope (the church) will reopen as soon as possible,” said Wadie Abunassar, a spokesperson for the local clergy.

The new restrictions in Israel, announced in a statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office, prohibited leaving one’s home except to buy essentials, such as food and medicine, or to seek medical treatment.

“Individuals aged 60 and over, especially the elderly and at-risk groups, must remain at home and avoid risking themselves by going out,” the statement said.

“Violating the prohibitions will constitute a criminal offense” it added, noting that police were tasked with enforcing the orders, which will be in place for seven days.

The church’s closure, a short time before Easter celebrations, comes days after Muslim authorities closed the nearby Al-Aqsa mosque compound, Islam’s third holiest site.

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The number of Israelis who have tested positive for the COVID-19 disease reached 2,369 on Wednesday evening. Five people have died in recent days after contracting the virus.

Palestinian authorities in the occupied West Bank reported the territory’s first death from the virus on Wednesday, with 60 cases recorded so far.

The Palestinian Authority on Sunday banned all non-essential movements for 14 days to curb the spread of the virus.

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Photo: Adeeb Joudeh, the custodian in charge of the ancient key to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, closed the entrance to the site on March 25, 2020 as part of efforts to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus (Ahmad GHARABLI AFP)


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This Europe country is housing quarantined coronavirus patients in a five-star hotel

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An ambulance driver wearing a white protective gown enters a Barcelona hotel and announces the arrival of three new "customers" -- a trio of coronavirus patients discharged from hospital into luxury quarantine.

"Good morning! How are you? My name is Enrique Aranda and I am probably the first non health care worker you see in several days," says the director of the five-star Melia Sarria hotel, peering into the ambulance.

It took just three days to convert the hotel, which features contemporary decor and bathrooms with marble finishing, into a clinic.

"Some patients arrive thinking that they were taken out of hospital to be left to die, many people are frightened. I try to make them forget all that," said Aranda, wearing mask and gloves.

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UK Labour to unveil new leader to replace Jeremy Corbyn

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Britain's main opposition Labour party on Saturday unveils a new leader who will take the helm of a defeated and divided party in the midst of the coronavirus crisis.

Keir Starmer, a former director of state prosecutions and Labour's Brexit spokesman, is the runaway favourite to win the ballot of around 500,000 party members and succeed Jeremy Corbyn.

The announcement will be a low-key affair, with a planned special conference cancelled due to restrictions on social gatherings imposed to stem the spread of COVID-19.

Instead, the result will be put out in a press release mid-morning -- and candidates have been asked to pre-record their victory speeches.

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‘Trump fires people for telling the truth’: President blasted for ‘dead of night decision’ to fire intel watchdog

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President Donald Trump was harshly criticized on Friday for firing intelligence community Inspector General Michael Atkinson.

House Intel Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Senate Intel Ranking Member Mark Warner (D-VA) were among the lawmakers who took to Twitter to criticize Trump on his favorite social media platform.

Here's some of what people were saying about Trump's decision:

Trump’s dead of night decision to fire ICIG Michael Atkinson is another blatant attempt to gut the independence of the Intelligence Community and retaliate against those who dare to expose presidential wrongdoing.

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