The 3Circle Church has confirmed members of its leadership team are stuck in a Palestinian hotel where at least seven employees have already tested positive for the coronavirus Covid-19.
According to a post on the church’s Facebook page Friday morning, a group of 13 people consisting of church leaders and their spouses departed the Mobile area on March 1 to visit holy sites in the areas of Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
The church, which has campuses in Daphne, Fairhope, Mobile and Thomasville, has not identified who was on the trip.
The group arrived at the Angel Hotel in Beit Jala near Bethlehem March 3, but the following evening, they were notified a Greek tourist who had stayed at the hotel the week before had tested positive for Covid-19 in Greece.
As a precaution, the hotel sent all guests away the next morning, but after the team from 3Circle left on March 5, they were called back by the hotel to be tested for the virus after a hotel employee’s test came back positive. Since then, officials have identified six other employees with presumptive cases.
The situation members of the group have described on social media has seemed a bit “unclear,” as they’ve worked with the United States Embassy and officials handling the quarantine in Palestine. At the moment, the team is quarantined at the hotel for at least 14 days to await testing, according to 3Circle.
“The 3Circle team continues to reach out to the U.S. Embassy and other U.S. authorities for help in this unknown and unclear circumstance,” the church wrote on Facebook. “The team is hopeful that communication will come soon. The hotel employees have been incredibly helpful to the team during this process. The 3Circle team is asking for help and clarity, but most importantly, prayers.”
According to the Jerusalem Post newspaper, the seven hotel workers who tested positive for Covid-19 are the first known cases of Covid-19 Palestinian authorities have publicly disclosed. There are currently 17 known cases of coronavirus in neighboring Israel, which is enforcing strict quarantines.
It is estimated that close to 100,000 people in Israel are in self-enforced quarantine, according to Jpost.
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