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World News

American Christians quarantined near Bethlehem after coronavirus outbreak at hotel

A group of US Christians have been quarantined in Israel due to the spreading of coronavirus. The 13-member team from 3Circle Church in Fairhope, Alabama, are confined to their West Bank hotel after an open-ended quarantine was ordered to try and stem the rate of infection. The action was taken after a group of Greek tourists staying in the same hotel tested positive for COVID-19. 

The group had hoped to take in the sacred sites on their much-anticipated pilgrimage to the holy land. But after just two days of touring Jerusalem and Bethlehem, their trip came to an abrupt end in the most extraordinary circumstances. The group are now waiting for more information on when they will be able to travel back to the United States.   

Speaking to the Times of Israel, 3Circle's lead pastor, Chris Bell, said: “We’re really sad that things turned out the way they did. It’s not a great situation, but we’re trying to make the best of it.”

According to the church, the group has been confined to a single floor of the hotel. Incredibly, despite being forced into a claustrophobic and fearful situation, the group is keeping the faith in the most inspiring way. Donning gloves and masks, they have committed to meeting together every morning in the hallway for prayer. 

"We love each other," Bell added. "Most of us have our spouses with us as well. So all of that human interaction, even though it’s through gloves, masks and at a distance really helps us get through every day." 

According to the pastor, no one in the group has been presenting any symptoms, and the group remains hopeful that they will be able to leave very soon.

“We are people of faith. And we do not believe this is an accident,” Bell added. “We know that our God knows exactly where we are. And he has a plan for this and that he is going to sustain us, and he’s going to be faithful to us. And we just want to represent him well while we’re walking through us.

"We’re not just praying for ourselves We’re praying for the hurting people of this area because we love them.

“We’re just hoping that we are able to go home and have great memories and a great story to tell in the end, an epic story." 

Israel currently has 39 confirmed cases of coronavirus, with thousands placed in protected isolation. The Israeli defense ministry is looking into closing the entire West Bank, while Palestinian authorities are banning all foreign tourists for two weeks and have closed churches and mosques across Bethlehem. 



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