Health Ministry to hospitals: Prepare to reopen coronavirus wards

A surge in coronavirus cases prompts health officials to brace for renewed wave of infections.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein called on Sunday for Israelis to comply with health regulations as the number of coronavirus cases spiked, warning that the surge in new infections might force the country back into a lockdown.

A sharp increase in confirmed infections over the past several days appears to come from a combination of the economy opening up and citizens failing to wear masks and keep social distancing as people embraced a “return to normality.”

Officials closed several high schools around the country where new outbreaks occurred, including a central Jerusalem high school where 80 students and teachers were infected by a suspected “super spreader.”

“Listen to the instructions,” Edelstein pleaded in a tweet. “We have a spot event in Jerusalem with large and unusual numbers. I heard people say: What is this panic? This is a local event. You need to understand – the steady rise began even before the Jerusalem school event.”

Edelstein warned that even if the those infected at the school are quarantined, “the trend is still on the rise.”

“The increase in the number of corona cases began even before the Jerusalem event. Yesterday’s results showed a 5-fold increase in positive results … If you think you’re sick – go check it out,” he said.

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The minister also called on business owners to comply with health guidelines under which everyone has to wear a mask while “keeping distance and hygiene.”

“It is not difficult to understand this. Either we will all be fine or we will be in closure and much faster than you think,” Edelstein said.

Although the Ministry of Health is able to perform up to 15,000 tests a day, only 1,825 were carried out on Saturday when hundreds of thousands of Israelis crowded beaches along the Mediterranean coastline and around the Sea of Galilee.

“The corona is not behind us,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted, echoing the calls to follow health guidelines and warning that if the infections continued to increase, “if necessary, we will change policy accordingly.”