Israel’s coronavirus cases jump to 200 as country heads into partial shutdown

Confirmed coronavirus infections in Israel reaches 200 as education system, shopping malls, restaurants, entertainment venues close in bid to stop spread of virus.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

The number of confirmed coronavirus infections in Israel reached 200 Sunday as the population scrambled to adapt to a new reality of closed schools, and businesses sought to try and stay open under onerous conditions.

The Ministry of Health said 157 of the infected people were hospitalized, two of whom were in serious condition, four in moderate condition and the rest so far only mildly affected by the virus. Five patients were being transported to hospitals, four had recovered and were released, while 34 were being treated at home, a ministry statement said.

To date there have been no fatalities in Israel from the coronavirus.

Under the new government guidelines, all educational institutions are closed including kindergartens and daycare centers. Shopping malls, restaurants, entertainment venues, museums and other non-essential services are closed, but supermarkets and pharmacies remain open.

Gatherings of more than 10 people are banned, with the health guidelines calling on businesses to have employees work from home, or “to continue working as long as they keep at least two meters (six feet) between employees in all places.” 

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The new rules affect all three of the major religions in the country, with restrictions placed on synagogues, mosques and churches to try and prevent worshipers from infecting each other.

Prayer and religious ceremonies will be conducted in groups of up to 10 people each, keeping a distance of 2 meters from person to person and no more than 2 groups at a time,” the health ministry guidelines said.

Likening the situation to a “war” on the coronavirus, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went on national television Saturday evening to announce the drastic moves that were being taken to reduce the spread of the sickness.

One additional affect of the new coronavirus situation is that Israel’s courts are also suspended, delaying the opening of Netanyahu’s trial on allegations of corruption to May 24. It had been scheduled to open March 17.