Archive for March 24, 2020

Israel faces full lockdown as coronavirus rate mounts to 200-300 a day – DEBKAfile

March 24, 2020

Source: Israel faces full lockdown as coronavirus rate mounts to 200-300 a day – DEBKAfile

The coronavirus task force lead by PM Binyamin Netanyahu decided on Monday, March 23, to tighten the lockdown on the population after an 8-hour debate. With the number of confirmed cases increasing by 200-300 a day, the health authorities warned that failing a full lockdown, Israel would soon risk hundreds of fatalities on the scale of the calamities in Italy and Spain.

Up until Monday night, there were 1,238 confirmed cases, 24 in serious condition and one death. The figure then jumped to 1,442.

According to the new regulations, to be released by the prime minister on Tuesday, people will be allowed to leave home only to shop for food and medication – all other shops will be shut – and stay within walking distance of their homes while carrying ID. Still to be decided is a measure to confine all people over the age of 65 to their homes indefinitely as the group most vulnerable to life-threatening infection from the virus. If approved, this measure would apply to 1.4 million people. Public transport will moreover be further scaled down with mainline transport operating at a minimum.  Banks will continue to function and provide services, and restaurants to offer takeaway or deliveries – but no seating.

Some of the participants in the discussion suggested that schools would not be able to go back to normal after the Passover holiday as first estimated and may remain closed for the summer up until the next school year in September.

Discussions on how to cope with the next stage of the pandemic’s spread took place under the shadow of the lingering political crisis, which was complicated by a sharp constitutional dispute further disrupting efforts to establish an emergency government for the covid-19 crisis. On Monday, as the new Knesset was about to hold its first session, the Supreme Court ordered Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud) to announce by the end of the day that he would hold a vote on Wednesday on the opposition Kahol Lavon’s motion to displace him with one of their lawmakers.

Likud ministers condemned this step as unconstitutional judicial intervention in the workings of the legislature and urged Edelstein to reply to the court in the negative.


Israel sees 371-case spike in confirmed coronavirus cases in a single day

March 24, 2020

Source: Israel sees 371-case spike in confirmed coronavirus cases in a single day | The Times of Israel

Total of 1,442 patients, including 29 in serious condition, says Health Ministry; 41 of those diagnosed have recovered

A man wearing protective clothes in downtown Jerusalem on March 20, 2020. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

A man wearing protective clothes in downtown Jerusalem on March 20, 2020. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

The number of diagnosed cases of the deadly coronavirus in Israel took another leap Monday, reaching 1,442, an increase of 371 since the day before.

Of those with COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, 29 are in serious condition and being treated on ventilators, the Health Ministry said Monday evening.

The increase of 371 appeared to be the biggest single-day jump of confirmed cases of the disease, despite increasingly strict measures to limit public life in the country. One person has died of the disease.

There are 40 patients considered moderately ill with the disease and another 1,331 with mild symptoms, the ministry figures showed. So far 41 people have recovered from the disease which causes fever, coughing and breathing difficulties.

There are 346 patients being treated at hospitals around the country and another 540 receiving treatment at home.

The rapid increase in diagnosed cases comes as Israel boosts its testing for the disease.

An Israeli woman wearing a face mask for fear of the coronavirus at the Mahane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem, March 22, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The Health Ministry said Monday morning it had tested 3,230 people over the 24 hours previously, having last week ramped up testing to around 2,000 people a day after complaints over the slow pace of the checks.

Israel is reportedly set to announce drastic new restrictions on public movement it hopes will help stanch the spread of the virus, though policy experts expect any effect to only be seen in 10 days or more.

Israelis visit the beach in Tel Aviv despite government orders to avoid public gatherings due to the spread of the new coronavirus, March 21, 2020. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

On Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a meeting with officials from the Health and Finance ministries as well as other government departments to review implementation of further isolation orders that Hebrew media reported would include a complete shut down of the public transportation system and limiting citizens to straying no further than a couple of hundred meters from their homes, unless they are traveling to or from work or buying essential items. All stores will also be shut, aside from groceries and pharmacies, and police powers to enforce the measures will be ratcheted up.

The discussion about the restrictions, which will reportedly be announced by Tuesday if not earlier, came following a phone call between Health Ministry director-general Moshe Bar Siman-Tov and Netanyahu in which the former said that measures already taken were not curbing the spread of the disease, Channel 12 television reported.

Israeli firefighter wearing protective clothes disinfects the entrance of the emergency of Hadassah Ein Karem hospital in Jerusalem on March 22, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Bar Siman-Tov reportedly told Netanyahu that the rate at which cases was increasing is “worrying, it is like the Italian rate.” Italy has seen a massive outbreak of the virus with the highest number of known fatalities in the world at over 6,000 deaths so far.

The Health Ministry has already ordered the public to stay indoors, only venturing out if necessary and banned gatherings of more than 10 people. Universities, schools, kindergartens, and leisure sites have all been closed.

Israel’s first fatality from the virus, 88-year-old Holocaust survivor Aryeh Even, was buried overnight Saturday in a funeral service that was capped at 20 mourners. All present were required to stand at a two-meter (6.5 ft) distance from one another.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.