Daily virus cases surpass 4,000 for 2nd day as Israel heads toward lockdown

Government announces a two-week nationwide closure to begin before Rosh Hashana holiday period.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

The number of daily coronavirus infections reached a record high Friday as the government announced it will impose a two-week national lockdown in advance of the Rosh Hashana holiday.

After weeks of soaring infections and with hospital wards filling up with patients seriously ill from the virus, the government issued the initial warning that Israelis will be required to remain close to their homes and a large swath of the economy will be shut down in an effort to stem the infections.

Although the final details will be announced after a cabinet meeting at the beginning of next week, the Prime Minister’s Office and Health Ministry issued a statement that a three-stage lockdown will go into effect next week.

Beginning before the start of the Rosh Hashana Jewish New Year holiday next Friday evening, Israelis will be forbidden to travel more than 500 meters from their homes; most of the education system will be shut down; the private and public sectors will be closed, except for working from home; indoor gatherings, including prayer services, will be banned, and restaurants will offer delivery service only.

Essential workers will be allowed to get to work, as food stores, pharmacies and other essential services will remain open. If the infection rate goes down, the restrictions will be eased in stages.

“Transition from stage to stage will be made after a situation assessment and subject to the situation picture indicating a significant continuing trend of decrease in morbidity,” the statement said.

Statistics released by the Health Ministry Friday morning showed a record 4,036 new cases were found from over 47,000 tests carried out in the past day, bringing the number of people currently sick with coronavirus to 33,920.

There are 991 people currently hospitalized with coronavirus, and of those, 482 are listed in serious condition; 148 patients are connected to ventilators to help them breathe.

The death toll since the beginning of the virus has doubled in just the past five weeks. An additional nine Israelis succumbed to the virus since midnight on Thursday, bringing the death total to 1,086.

Earlier this week, hospital officials warned that without a lockdown the health system was on the verge of collapse, as coronavirus wards were nearing full capacity with the numbers accelerating daily.