Israel’s Health Ministry confirmed 1,165 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday morning, with the positivity rate dropping to 3%. The number of seriously ill patients dropped to less than 600 for the first time in weeks, standing at 591, of whom 229 are ventilated. The death toll has increased to 2,278.
Despite the seemingly good news of reduced virus rates, senior health officials have been warning that Israel’s infection rate is still very high and that there will be a spike in the infection rate in the next week or two due to violations of coronavirus restrictions and the loosening of restrictions, especially the reopening of the educational system.
“We’re expecting a significant increase in infection in the next seven to ten days,” a senior Health Ministry official told Channel 12 News. “There’s no escaping it due to the level of regulation violations.”
The official said that if the expected rise in infection occurs, the next stage of reducing restrictions will be delayed. Sources from the Prime Minister’s Office told Kan News that the prime minister is considering implementing a nightly curfew if the infection rate rises.
Shortly before the coronavirus cabinet convened on Wednesday afternoon, it was decided that the “red status” of the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo will be removed, the only “red area” that wasn’t removed from the list on Monday and Tuesday.
However, at least according to Health Minister Yuli Edelstein, the now “orange zones” will soon be red again. “In another seven to ten days, all the orange cities like Beitar Illit and Modiin Illit will become red again,” Edelstein said on Reshet Bet on Tuesday evening. “I hope that they’ll stay red but I’m quite doubtful that they will.”
The coronavirus cabinet convened on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the next steps in reducing restrictions, especially the reopening of classrooms for children in 1st through 4th grades, an issue fraught with conflict between the Health Ministry, which is pushing for strict measures, and the Education Ministry, which says that the stringent measures require another five weeks and over NIS 7 billion to implement.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)