Israeli coronavirus cases climb to 250 as streets empty

“From the north to the south the streets can be seen void of people,” the Israel Hayom newspaper reported.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Israel reached 250 by Monday. (Afternoon reports of 344 were incorrect, according to the Ministry of Health.) Most of Israel’s 9.1 million citizens appeared to be heeding safety instructions and staying off the streets.

The new figure doubles the number from three days ago, when 126 people in Israel were known to have the highly contagious virus. Of the 190 people hospitalized with the virus, four were in serious condition, a health ministry statement said.

Just over 50,000 Israelis are in mandatory 14-day quarantine, either returning travelers or those who came into contact with a coronavirus carrier, an increase of 1,704 from Sunday.

However, the number of people who had recovered did not increase, remaining at only four cases so far. To date, there have been no coronavirus-related fatalities in Israel.

The health system continued to have its own struggle with the virus on Monday with 18 health-care workers sick with coronavirus and 2593 more in quarantine after being exposed to an infected carrier.

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Hospital manpower continued to be affected with a senior physician at Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital testing positive after treating numerous coronavirus patients, Ynet reported. While the number of doctors in isolation dropped from 949 before the weekend to 862 Monday, the number of nurses unable to work rose from 635 to 823.

In a short-term blow to virus testing, the head of the health ministry’s central laboratory at a main hospital near Tel Aviv tested positive for coronavirus, Calcalist reported, forcing the entire laboratory staff into home quarantine. The ministry was working to transfer technicians from other labs in order to get the facility working again.

With the education system shut down and entertainment venues closed, a large percentage of the population was working from home while others went to work under ministry of health restrictions limiting groups of people to 10 maximum and advising people to keep a 2 meter (6 foot) distance from each other to avoid catching the virus.

“From the north to the south the streets can be seen void of people,” the Israel Hayom newspaper reported.”In the capital Jerusalem the streets were very empty – most residents heeded the (health) directives and those who went out made sure to keep their distance and encountered closed businesses.”

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With government offices closed due to the health crisis, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri announced Monday an automatic three-month visa extension for thousands of foreign workers in Israel, many of them essential geriatric health care workers, whose work permits might be expiring.

During this difficult time, it is not appropriate for the public to find itself with no working solution,” Deri said in a press release, saying the visa extensions will be done automatically without the workers having to go in person to government employment bureaus.