Israel heads toward ‘Lockdown Seder’, new Coronavirus restrictions introduced

March 31, 2020 by Aryeh Savir - TPS
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu introduced new Coronavirus (COVID-19) related restrictions, as Israel prepares for the upcoming Passover holiday and as the number of Corona deaths is Israel was counted at 17 on Tuesday morning.

Policepersons patrolling in the streets of Jerusalem’s Ultra-Orthodox neighborhood, Mea Shearim and enforcing the Israeli government lockdown, in order to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. Earlier today police force sealed a synagogue in the neighborhood after it continued to be a place of illegal gathering. Jerusalem, Mar 30, 2020. Photo by Yehonatan Valtser/TPS

The Ministry of Health on Tuesday morning updated that the number of Corona patients in Israel was 4,831, with 83 in serious condition, 95 in moderate condition, and 163 who have recovered.

Two patients, a man in his 50s and a 49-year-old woman, died of Corona on Tuesday morning, bringing the total number of Corona deaths in Israel to 17. Both patients suffered from previous illnesses.

Professor Gaby Barabash, who as emerged as a national authority on the virus, noted Monday evening that the growth rate of the number of patients was cut by more than half, leaving some room for optimism.

The mortality rate in Israel among Corona patients is one of the lowest in the world, with a 0.37% death rate. Italy has an 11% mortality rate, England has a 6% rate, the US has 1.7%, and Germany has 0.8%.

Netanyahu announced on Monday evening a new list of restrictions meant to stem the spread of the virus. All forms of prayer in groups were banned, weddings were banned, and funerals are to be held only in open space and in a small group.

All employees were urged to work from home, and those who do arrive at their workplace are required to take their temperature before doing so.

In the workplace, there will be no more than 10 employees or 15% of the workforce at the same time.

“It is true that we in Israel are in a better position than almost any other country regarding the number of severe patients and the mortality rate but we are not satisfied therewith. We aspire to the degree of success of several Asian countries, which have greatly slowed the rate of infection with the virus. Therefore, I have decided this evening to submit to the Cabinet additional life-saving restrictions and I emphasize – these restrictions are designed to save lives; it is as simple as that,” he stated Monday evening.

The Cabinet approved the draft decision to allocate 700 soldiers to assist the Israel Police and increase presence and enforcement in the public sphere. The troops, who are in various stages of training, will not be armed and will have no authority to make arrests.

After entering a quarantine because one of his aids was tested positive for Corona, Netanyahu tested negative on Monday evening. His family members and immediate staff likewise tested negative.

Netanyahu announced that he will remain in quarantine despite the results of the tests pending the Ministry of Health’s instructions on his case.

Saying a word about the Passover holiday which begins next week, Netanyahu said that “the seder this year will be remembered as ‘the lockdown seder.’ I request that you hold in it in the context of the nuclear family that lives with you in your apartment or house.”

He asked Israelis to “refrain from family visits on the eve of the holiday… There is no choice.”

“What I said just now is also true for the holidays of the non-Jewish communities,” he noted. Ramadan this year is expected to begin on April 23.

The novel Coronavirus COVID-19 is affecting 200 countries around the world.

At least 786,000 cases of Coronavirus have been confirmed worldwide, including at least 38,000 deaths. Some 166,000 have recovered.

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