Israel’s Coronavirus Death Toll Tops 1,000

YERUSHALAYIM -
Health care workers take test samples of Israelis to check if they have been infected with the coronavirus, at a health center in Modi’in Ilit in July. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

Israel on Motzoei Shabbos passed yet another milestone, with the country’s death toll of coronavirus fatalities passing the 1,000 mark, after the Health Ministry reported 12 additional patients succumbed to the pathogen.

The death toll since the start of the pandemic now stands at 1,007.

The Health Ministry on Motzoei Shabbos said that 2,617 new coronavirus patients tested positive over the last day. 31,603 coronavirus tests were conducted, with the positivity rate at 8.2%.

439 of the patients are listed in serious condition. Of those, 128 coronavirus patients are on ventilators.

Meanwhile, the Corona Cabinet decided on Thursday to impose lockdowns on some 30 localities with high COVID-19 infection rates.

Under these new measures, residents will be prohibited from venturing more than 500 meters (1,600 feet) away from home except to purchase food, medicine and other essential needs; all “non-essential” businesses will be shuttered; educational institutions will be closed except for kindergartens and special education; and travel to, within, and from the cities, and even certain neighborhoods will be restricted.

The restrictions are set to come into effect on Monday and ministers are expected to finalize the list of localities that will be placed under lockdown by Sunday.

Restrictions will be in effect for a week and might be extended upon reassessment.

National coordinator of the battle against the coronavirus Professor Ronni Gamzu issued a clarification about the lockdown on Friday.

Gamzu released a statement explaining that the decision to instate a full lockdown would apply only to “the eight towns with especially high infection rates.” However, a list of the cities deemed “especially high” would be compiled only this weekend, and subject to Cabinet approval on Sunday, the statement said.

The statement noted that “the decision by the Corona Cabinet gives the team of experts under Professor Gamzu the authority to expand the list of red cities that will come under a full lockdown.”

The rest of the red cities and towns, Gamzu said, would be subject to restricted movement but not a full lockdown.

Police forces have begun preparations to enforce lockdowns wherever the government decides to declare them, acting Police Commissioner Maj. Gen. Moti Cohen announced Thursday.

Cohen said that the Israel Police’s airborne unit would direct police forces on the ground. Cohen also said that enforcement would be increased in business areas to ensure that public health regulations for shopping malls and stores were observed.

“We will not hesitate to close businesses that violate the regulations and we will continue to fine those who violate the law and put public health at risk,” Cohen said.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz has instructed the IDF to be ready to deploy hundreds of soldiers, and even extend the call-ups of some 7,000 reservists, in order to supplement the police. Gantz has also instructed the Home Front Command to step up its activities in red cities, and focus its efforts on contact tracing, testing, and helping distribute food parcels and assisting local authorities.