Corona infections in Israel soar in last 24 hours, blamed on indifference to restrictions

Officials blame the spike on the public’s general indifference to social distancing and other coronavirus health guidelines.

By Aaron Sull, World Israel News

Israel’s coronavirus cases and fatalities soared over the past 24 hours with more than 200 new infections and one death recorded Friday.

The number of coronavirus cases in Israel stood at 3,019 with 34 in serious condition and an even 300 deaths recorded. The renewed outbreak significantly struck the school system, with 460 students and faculty members catching the deadly disease, according to the Health Ministry.

As a result, the Education Ministry has been forced to shut down 165 schools and sent 25,517 students and staff members into quarantine. If the virus continues to plague schools, the cabinet agreed on Thursday that it might take further action by shutting down all middle and high schools nationwide.

Officials are blaming the spike on the public’s general indifference to social distancing and other coronavirus stipulations. Israelis have been repeatedly shown congregating at beaches and in clubs, failing to wear masks or stay 2 meters (6 feet) away from each other.

“The spike in cases is because we did not adhere to the rules,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during a televised address on Thursday. “I say it directly and honestly: We did not. I ask you to do what I am talking about more strongly in the coming days.”

“If it continues, we will restore restrictions, and the economy will stop,” he said.

On Tuesday, Netanyahu ordered stepped-up enforcement of social distancing rules, including giving city officials the power to join police in enforcing mask-wearing and rules against large gatherings. A day earlier, the government decided to freeze plans for a further easing of restrictions that would have allowed trains, cinemas, and arts venues to open.

The government doesn’t want to reimpose a lockdown, but it has set three conditions in which it will do so: if the number of those hospitalized in serious condition reaches 250; if there are more than 100 cases a day outside of virus hot spots and if the rate of new infections starts to double in under 10 days.