Many of you have already shared with me your concerns about the news coming out of Bethlehem. On behalf of the community at Bethlehem University, I write to thank you for your concern and most especially for your prayers.
This morning I received an update from the Vice Chancellor of Bethlehem University, Brother Peter Bray, FSC, that I want to share with you, our faithful supporters.
There are seven confirmed cases of the Novel Coronavirus in Bethlehem. One is a student at Bethlehem University enrolled in the Institute of Hotel Management and Tourism. He works at the Angel Hotel in Beit Jala, just 1.5 miles from Bethlehem. A recent visitor to the hotel from Greece became sick while on pilgrimage and was confirmed with the virus when she returned to Greece. The student was in class at the University on Monday and so his classmates and professor have been asked to follow the procedures for those exposed to the virus.
Last night the President of Palestine declared a month-long state of emergency!
- Closure of all educational institutions, including Bethlehem University.
- Complete cancellation of tourist reservations in all hotels.
- Complete closure of all religious and tourist sites.
- Cancellation of all local and international conferences and celebrations where large numbers of people would assemble.
Additionally, because of the seven cases in Bethlehem, the Palestinian Authority, in conjunction with the Israeli Government, has
locked down Bethlehem until further notice
. This means no one can enter or leave Bethlehem until both governments decide it is safe to do so.
Life in Bethlehem has always been difficult, with limited jobs and resources. With tourism being the main source of employment and revenue, jobs and income will be greatly affected by the closure, making an already difficult situation even more desperate. Please keep the University, its faculty, staff, and students in your prayers.
Some of you have inquired on how you might help support the community in Bethlehem during this time of need.
Gifts to the Bethlehem University Foundation Annual Fund allow the Foundation to respond directly to the most pressing needs at the University. Your support can help the community during this very troubling time.
Thank you for your support and most especially for your continued prayers for the community at Bethlehem University. Please know I will share updates as I receive them.
John L. Schlageter, Esq., KCHS