“We’re In A State Of Emergency,” Israel’s Coronavirus Czar Says

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Medical personnel wearing protective equipment cover the body of a man who died from COVID-19, in the intensive care ward for coronavirus patients at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, Monday, Nov. 23, 2020. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

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Israel’s Health Ministry confirmed over 1,200 daily coronavirus cases on Tuesday for the first time since October 19. A total of 1,227 new coronavirus cases were confirmed, with tests showing a positivity rate of 2.2%. The number of active virus cases exceeded 10,000 on Monday for the first time in weeks, reaching 10,513 by Tuesday, of whom 264 are seriously ill and 99 are ventilated. The death toll has risen to 2,865.

“We’re in a state of emergency,” new coronavirus czar Prof. Nachman Ash said on Tuesday. “There’s a rise in morbidity but the public feels that the virus is gone. We’re meeting to consider what immediate steps need to be taken and meanwhile we’re continuing intensive steps regarding investigation, tests and quarantine.”

A Channel 12 News report said that the heads of Israeli hospitals nationwide unanimously agreed that Israel is on the way to a third coronavirus wave during a videoconference meeting with the Health Ministry last week. Although the current number of hospitalized patients is low, the directors agreed that the current situation is only the temporary result of Israel’s second lockdown that began on October 2.

According to a Kan News report, the Health Ministry is already planning the next lockdown – which would be Israel’s third – to be determined by two criteria: when the basic reproduction number reaches 1.3 and/or the number of new coronavirus cases reaches 2,000.

The plan calls for a “breathable” lockdown, with the educational system remaining open as well as private businesses that don’t receive the public.

The coronavirus cabinet voted on Monday to amend the pilot program for the reopening of malls which began on Friday due to severe overcrowding as Israeli flocked to shop at malls for the first time since mid-September. The amendment reduced the capacity allowed in malls from one person per seven square meters to one person per 15 square meters.

Arab areas continue to record high morbidity rates, with the lockdown on Israel’s largest Arab city of Nazareth extended until the end of the week.

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)