Health Minister Warns of New Lockdown as Infection Rate Jumps

Magen David Adom medical workers test Israelis at a drive-through site to collect samples for coronavirus testing in Yerushalyim on Sunday. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein warned Sunday of the possibility of having to institute a new lockdown, as he noted that the rate of positive coronavirus cases was now five times higher than several days ago.

At the weekly Cabinet meeting, Edelstein notes the sharp increase in infections over the past few days, adding that “either it all turns out to be okay, or we will be back under lockdown, and much faster than people think.”

Edelstein said that while a week ago the rate of positive results out of all coronavirus tests was about 0.5%, that had jumped to 2.5% over the weekend.

Edelstein said that his ministry is seeing an upward trend “not only in Yerushalayim and not only in the Gymnasia school.”

Stressing that Israel has the capacity to test 15,000 people per day, the health minister called on people to go get tested whenever they have symptoms: “If the public cooperates, we will know what the real numbers [of coronavirus cases] are among the population.”

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said at the beginning of the meeting this morning (Sunday) at the Foreign Ministry auditorium by addressing concerns about the outbreak of the coronavirus epidemic.

Netanyahu noted that “the coronavirus is not behind us,” and said that in the coming days, an effort will be made to ascertain what the infection rate is and whether there really is a significant renewed outbreak.

“We are interested in increasing the number of tests. There is an increase relative to what we were used to. If we need to, we’ll change the policy accordingly,” Netanyahu noted.

He addressed the ministers, saying, “We ask the government ministers and Knesset members to set a personal example and to keep the rules, wearing masks, keeping distance and of course, strict hygiene.”

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