Israelis ordered to wear masks in public: closure placed on Bnei Brak    

April 2, 2020 by Aryeh Savir - TPS
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All Israelis will be required to wear face masks in public, and the ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak was placed under an almost complete closure, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cautioned that Israel is “still in the midst of an international tsunami” in wake of the global Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Policepersons blocking a road in Jerusalem and checking drivers for the necessity of their drive, following the Israeli government order to tighter the lockdown in the country due to the increasing numbers of Coronavirus infected. Jerusalem, Mar 29, 2020. Photo by Yehonatan Valtser/TPS

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar Siman Tov issued statements on Wednesday night, during which Netanyahu warned that Israel is “still in the midst of an international tsunami. The corona pandemic is engulfing continents and countries – almost every country on earth. This is a mighty storm. The world is at one great front.”

Drawing on the lessons from the tragedy in Italy, Netanyahu quoted Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte who told him to ‘do the hard things sooner rather than later.’ This is what we have done since the onset of the crisis.”

While Israel was ranked in first place in the index for the safest countries in the world against the spread of corona, “this does not say, however, that the danger is behind us. We are not falling into the trap of complacency. We are not slackening, even for a moment, in our effort to control the epidemic,” he stated.

The lockdown in which Israel has been placed entail “a difficult economic price,” but first we must save the lives of thousands, thousands, thousands, in Israel,” he declared.

He noted that the state was tightening restrictions on movement into and out of Bnei Brak, an ultra-Orthodox city which has experienced a severe outbreak of Coronavirus, and neighborhoods in south Tel Aviv which have become a hub for illegal work-seekers from Africa and which is at risk of experiencing a similar epidemic.

“I would like to point out that there has been a very positive change among the ultra-orthodox public. The ultra-orthodox public has well internalized the danger of the spread of the coronavirus. It is listening to the instructions and is behaving responsibly, with full backing from the rabbis,” he added.

“This is the time for the widest possible solidarity among us, all citizens of Israel. This is the time for mutual guarantee between all citizens of Israel,” he said.

He further announced that all Israelis will be required to wear masks in the public sphere.

Netanyahu also announced a special stipend for the Passover holiday. Every family with children will receive NIS 500 per child up to and including the fourth child. Every senior citizen will receive a NIS 500 supplement to their monthly allowance.

“Citizens of Israel, with G-d’s help and yours, we will meet the current challenge. We are starting to see signs that, perhaps due to the steps we have taken, we are on the road to taking control of the epidemic. However it is too early to say so with certainty. In no way can we rejoice over an accomplished fact. At this time, let us join forces, close ranks and unite in a national emergency government, and again prove that the people of Israel live,” he concluded.

The Ministry of Health on Thursday morning updated that the number of Corona patients in Israel was 6,211, with 107 in serious condition, 127 in moderate condition, and 289 who have recovered.

30 patients have died, the majority of who were elderly and suffered from other prior illnesses.  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%.

The novel Coronavirus COVID-19 is affecting 203 countries around the world.

At least 936,500 cases of Coronavirus have been confirmed worldwide, including at least 47,000 deaths. Some 195,000 have recovered.

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