Nationwide curfew expected before Passover, Israel’s infections climb to 8,611

No flattening of the curve yet as coronavirus numbers continue to rise, nationwide curfew expected for Passover holiday.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Coronavirus infection numbers in Israel continued their steep rise Monday although the pace of those seriously ill fell slightly.

In its regular morning release of statistics, the Ministry of Health reported 8,611 Israelis have been confirmed to be infected with the virus. Of the 763 people hospitalized for treatment 141 are in serious condition and 107 of them are connected to ventilators to assist their breathing.

To date, 51 Israelis have died from coronavirus complications while 585 people have fully recovered.

Concerned about the constantly growing number of confirmed cases, officials moved to impose closures on several cities and large neighborhoods of the capital city Jerusalem.

A government declaration of “restricted areas” included the cities of Ashkelon and Tiberias as well as several predominantly ultra-Orthodox towns and 15 religious neighborhoods of Jerusalem, which are among the most highly infected areas of the city.

Police are expected to be deployed to enforce the restrictions on movement, and the army will send in troops to help distribute food door-to-door.

A nationwide curfew is expected to be imposed Wednesday before the start of the Passover holiday, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri revealed on Channel 12. Authorities are taking the drastic move to forcibly prevent Israelis from gathering in large family groups for the traditional Seder – the evening meal at which the biblical exodus from slavery in Egypt is recounted.

The annual festival is also traditionally the nation’s largest traffic jam when millions of people travel to homes of relatives for the meal. Health officials and government leaders issued stern warnings that anybody traveling for non-essential reasons would be fined and sent back home.

“I say this as clearly as possible: You must stay home! Stay home – stay alive. The danger lurks for everyone,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned the nation last week.

The health ministry distributed guidelines for the holiday with specific instructions that for the Seder evening, “everyone in their own house with immediate family only.”

“Rather than gathering with family and friends, we will all follow the guidelines for social distancing,” Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin said in an address to leaders of Jewish communities around the world.