Did Israel loosen corona strictures too early? Health Ministry reports jump in cases

It may be a wake-up call for Israelis, who have been relaxing their vigilance after hunkering down for months.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

Is the feared second wave already here?

Israel’s Ministry of Health reported 75 new coronavirus cases between Monday and Thursday.

On Wednesday night, the Health Ministry reported a jump of 36 new cases in a day, the sharpest daily rise since May 8, when 55 new cases were reported.

Since early May when the country began easing its health guidelines to combat the virus, the numbers have trended downwards with only some hotspots remaining.

Isolated cases had been reported, including schoolteachers and students (last week, the country reopened its schools), but this is the first time since the easing that a spike has been reported.

It may be a wake-up call for Israelis, who have been relaxing their vigilance after hunkering down for months as the pandemic washed over the world.

An anecdotal measure of the Israeli population’s attitude can be taken in sight of face masks on the streets. Fewer and fewer people have been wearing them despite the fact that the Health Ministry has not lifted its restriction on their usage in public.

On Wednesday, Israel reopened its restaurants and bars with certain health regulations in place. Israelis eagerly embraced the return of their favorite eating places and could be seen packing restaurants in Tel Aviv.

Israel’s official coronavirus count as of Wednesday is 1,942 actively sick patients of whom 38 are on ventilators. There have been 281 deaths in the country. No new deaths have been reported in the last 24 hours. Israel has reported a total of 16,793 patients since the start of the pandemic, the vast majority of whom have recovered (14,570).

It is an open question whether, in the event of a second bout with the coronavirus, Israelis will be prepared to undertake a second lockdown. The economy faces 28 percent unemployment as a result of the pandemic.

Israel’s former Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon warned economic experts on May 9 that if Israel faced a second wave of coronavirus infections, a lockdown could not be imposed on the country again as it would lead to a total collapse of the economy and irreversible damage to the country.