Israel: 26,452 Cases, 324 Deaths, Hotspot Areas In Ashdod, Lod Declared “Red Zones”

A drill at Rambam Hospital transforming underground parking lot into emergency coronavirus ward (Photo: Rambam Hospital)

The Health Ministry on Thursday recorded 967 new coronavirus cases in the previous 24 hours, another record in daily cases since the uptick in cases began at the beginning of June.

The total number of active cases has risen to 8,647, with 58 in serious condition, of whom 24 are ventilated. The death toll has risen to 324.

Ministers in the coronavirus cabinet agreed late Wednesday night on a seven-day lockdown of neighborhoods in the cities of Ashdod and Lod to stem the spread of the coronavirus. The lockdown went into effect on Thursday morning.

The ministers also decided on Wednesday night to instruct Health Ministry Director-General Prof. Chezy Levy to sign an order on Thursday morning banning gatherings in Beitar Illit as well as imposing restrictions on educational institutions due to the high infection rate in the city, which is higher than the national average.

The coronavirus cabinet is convening again on Thursday morning to discuss further restrictions to combat the spread of the virus. According to a Channel 12 News report, health ministry officials will push ministers to reduce the number of people allowed at event halls, restaurants and bars to 50 and mispallelim at minyanim to 20.

Yamina leader Naftali Bennett said in a radio interview on Thursday morning that Israelis shouldn’t visit their grandparents in a closed apartment to avoid the spread of the virus to the elderly, a stricter measure than current health ministry regulations.

The Knesset passed a law on Wednesday evening reinstating the Shin Bet program to conduct contact tracing of coronavirus carriers through phone tracking. The Shin Bet program is expected to be used only until a private firm can complete an app that can accomplish similar results.

According to the new law, the Shin Bet can only be involved in tracking citizens if other contact tracing programs cannot produce similar results but adds a stipulation that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu‏‏ can request an expansion of the criteria necessary for the Shin Bet to continue its tracking program if necessary.

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)