Israeli corona cases hit record high, night curfews imposed on 40 cities

The Health Ministry reported 3,425 new cases in the last day, the highest since the start of the pandemic in Israel.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Israel set a new record high for coronavirus infections Tuesday as politicians and health officials continued to squabble overs attempts to get the second wave of the pandemic under control, imposing a night curfew on 40 towns and cities marked as “red,” that is with high incidences of the disease.

Hours before the new restrictions were set to begin, the Health Ministry published the list of 40 “red” cities with the worst outbreaks. Their populations are predominantly Jewish ultra-orthodox and Arab populations.

The Health Ministry reported 3,425 new cases in the last day, the highest since the start of the pandemic in Israel. Of the 26,962 active cases in Israel, 941 people are hospitalized with 467 of them listed in serious condition and 139 patients connected to ventilators.

The death toll now stands at 1,026 with the government struggling to find solutions to staunch the growing infection rate that has now become the world’s highest.

The head of the coronavirus task force, Prof. Ronni Gamzu, said he would keep plugging away and find alternatives after the government backed down from imposing full lockdowns on the red cities, which is what he had proposed.

“I understood that I need to rethink my direction regarding restrictions on red cities, but without losing resolve,” Gamzu told Yediot Ahronot. “It isn’t always nice when they do not accept your recommendation, but you need to be an adult, look at the big picture and do the best you can in a given situation, to help the red cities lower morbidity rates.”

Although the plan for full lockdowns was announced Thursday with the intention of imposing them on Sunday, the government only authorized night curfews around noon on Tuesday. Along with the evening curfews, schools will be closed.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government appeared to buckle under pressure from ultra-orthodox leaders who rejected the strict lockdowns despite the high infection rates in areas known to be home to their party supporters.

A Channel 13 opinion poll released Monday night showed 65 percent of respondents were unhappy with Netanyahu’s handling of the crisis, while 45 percent felt that Gamzu should continue to head the coronavirus efforts and only 34 percent believed he should resign, with 21 percent having no opinion on the subject.