Israel: 17,012 Cases, 284 Deaths, Schools To Remain Open Despite Spike In Virus Cases

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MDA spokesperson

There are 17,012 cases of the coronavirus in Israel as of Motzei Shabbos, with only 1,917 active cases. There are 36 patients in serious condition of whom 34 are ventilated. The death toll has risen to 284.

There were 101 new cases of the coronavirus diagnosed over Shavuos, a number that is above the limit Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu set to determine if Israel would revert back to a lockdown. Netanyahu said at a press conference on May 4 that coronavirus restrictions would be re-imposed if any of three scenarios occurred: over 100 new cases in one day; if the number of new cases doubled in 10 days; or if there are 250 patients in serious condition.

By the next day, the number of new cases decreased, with only 14 news cases diagnosed over Shabbos.

“We have now received a wake-up call,” outgoing Health Minister Moshe Bar Siman-Tov said on Motzei Shabbos. Bar Siman-Tov said that the majority of newly diagnosed patients were students and staff members in schools – 7% were from middle schools and 35% from high schools, with the highest number of cases at the Hebrew Gymnasium school in the Rechavia neighborhood of Jerusalem.

Despite rumors that the government would be re-closing schools, Bar Siman-Tov said that schools will be remaining open and the health ministry has no regrets about opening them, explaining that they knew there would be “some trial and error. If the numbers show we need to close them down again, we’ll so so. We’re trying to reach a balance between ensuring a low number of infections and keeping the economy open.”

Schools that have experienced an outbreak of the coronavirus will be closed on Sunday, including seven schools and 10 preschools.

Some of the newly diagnosed patients are medical personnel. Two nurses at Hillel Yaffe Medical Center in Hadera tested positive for the virus on Friday, sending 41 staff members at the hospital into quarantine. Later on Friday, a doctor at Soroka Medical Center in Be’er Sheva tested positive for the virus, sending 31 members of the hospital staff into quarantine.

There has also been a spike of infections among foreign workers in Israel, including a kindergartener who attends a school for foreign students in Tel Aviv.

The Health Ministry blamed the spike in cases on the public becoming lax in following the guidelines. “The Health Ministry is concerned about the increase in the number of new patients and the infection rate as well as a pattern of indifference and complacency resulting in contempt and disregard for the regulations,” the Health Ministry stated on Motzei Shabbos.

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)