Corona Cabinet to Convene Sunday to Deliberate Lockdown as New Cases Continue to Rise

YERUSHALAYIM -
A Magen David Adom worker worker wears protective clothing as a preventive measure against the coronavirus as he arrives to test a patient with symptoms of COVID-19 (coronavirus), in Yerushalayim on Tuesday. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is expected to convene the special ministerial forum dealing with the coronavirus pandemic on Sunday, in order to deliberate on new measures to contain the recent surge in the spread of the coronavirus.

The Health Ministry on Thursday evening reported 668 new cases coronavirus over the past 24 hours, the largest daily increase since early April.

The ministry also announced an additional fatality from coronavirus, bringing the country’s death toll to 309.

The number of active cases rose above 6,000, with 47 people in serious condition, including 29 on ventilators. Another 52 Israelis were in moderate condition and the rest had mild or no symptoms.

The increase in new confirmed infections was the largest since April 3, when there were a record 819 cases confirmed over 24 hours. Back in April, strict restrictions meant to contain the virus were still in effect.

The influx in new cases has been in part due to the full reopening of the education system. Figures from the Education Ministry on Friday show that 909 students and teaching staff have been tested positive for coronavirus.

The ministry said that 239 schools and preschools have now been closed due to outbreaks of the virus, and 20,102 students and staff are in quarantine.

Health Ministry Director General Chezy Levi told Israel Radio on Wednesday that he believed “there is no choice” but to reimpose certain lockdown measures, saying that the easing of the restrictions was always contingent on containing the virus.

The Corona Cabinet may decide that some of the measures that have been lifted only several months ago will be reimposed, although it is understood that this will likely not be in the form of another nationwide lockdown so as not to disrupt economic activity.

On Thursday a week-long extension of the lockdown of a neighborhood in the southern Bedouin town of Arara, which has the highest infection rate per capita of any community in Israel, was approved.

In a bid to stop the surge, the Knesset on Wednesday advanced a bill to reinstate the Shin Bet surveillance program aimed at tracking virus carriers and those exposed to them.