Israel Health Ministry focuses on targeted closures in new corona strategy

In a dramatic announcement on Tuesday, the ministry demanded that the Israeli government impose a lockdown on dozens of cities.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

Israel’s Health Ministry wants to avoid calling for a nationwide shutdown as the country’s economy has taken enough of a beating. It’s new strategy is targeted closures.

In a dramatic announcement on Tuesday, the ministry demanded that the Israeli government impose a lockdown on dozens of cities where the coronavirus has spiked in recent days in an effort to contain its spread.

It wants lockdowns and traffic limits imposed on areas it has labeled “red zones,” including the cities of Ashdod, Bat Yam, Ramle, Dimona and others, where concentrations of new cases have been reported. Neighborhoods of Jerusalem and Bnei Brak, a city on the outskirts of Tel Aviv, may also be included on the list.

The ministry’s new director general, Hazi Levi, told Israel Hayom on Tuesday, “Our experiment is not to return to a full curfew, but to be satisfied with limited actions on regions with exceptional illnesses of corona.”

The new Health Minister, Yuli Edelstein, hinted at the need to take into account the economic damage when making health decisions. He said Tuesday during The Jerusalem Post’s inaugural virtual conference, “imagine if we stayed closed another month. Then we would not have enough funds for the Health Ministry I am heading right now.”

However, the ministry still warns that if the government doesn’t take action on its request for targeted closures, a nationwide lockdown will be inevitable.

A senior Health Ministry official told Israel Hayom, “If we don’t impose a curfew on the red communities where there’s widespread plague, we are likely to arrive at the difficult situation of imposing tough limits and a closure on the entire country and, heaven forbid, for a long period, with all the economic and social ramifications of such steps.”

Over the last two days, on June 29 and 30, Israel has seen a dramatic rise in cases, with 752 and 773 infected respectively. In the seven days prior, starting on June 22 the number of cases hovered largely in the 300 and 400 range.

Unlike the first wave of infections, this time people are having trouble identifying where they contracted the disease. However, Channel 12’s news site determined that the majority – 137 – were infected on buses over the last week. The second most common locations were supermarkets at 86.

On Monday, Israel’s government imposed restrictions on gatherings. Weddings and bar mitzvahs are now limited to 250 people. Circumcisions and prayer is set at 50.