Hospitalizations Top 1,000 on Eve of Coronavirus Lockdown Vote

Coronavirus cabinet approves two-week lockdown, subject to government approval ■ Almost a million ordered to self-isolate since July 1, official data shows ■ Gaza cases top 1,500, Israel cases top 150,000

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Health Minister Yuli Edelstein (2nd left) tours the coronavirus ward at Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, June 23, 2020.
Health Minister Yuli Edelstein (2nd left) tours the coronavirus ward at Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, June 23, 2020.Credit: Ofer Vaknin
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Haaretz

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Israel, the West Bank and Gaza are dealing with a renewed coronavirus outbreak, leading to proposals and measures intended to curb its spread and mitigate the economic ramifications of the crisis by both Israeli and Palestinian authorities.

Israel currently has 38,119 active cases; 1,103 people have died. 

In the West Bank, there are 9,845 active cases, in Gaza 1,549. In the West Bank and Gaza, 240 people have died. 

LIVE UPDATES

10:50 P.M. Israel registers 4,158 new cases on Saturday

Israel registered nearly 200 new coronavirus cases in just several hours on Saturday evening, raising the total for the day to 4,158. The number of active cases stands at 38,119 and the total to date is 152,722. Twenty-six people died in less in 24 hours, raising the death toll in Israel to 1,103. 

8:30 P.M. Minister quarantined after exposure to coronavirus

Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel was ordered to quarantine after one of his staffers tested positive for coronavirus. Hendel tested negative but is said to continue self-isolating per Health Ministry regulations. (Jonathan Lis)

7:30 P.M. More than 1,000 coronavirus patients hospitalized in Israel

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The Health Ministry reported that 1,018 coronavirus patients in Israel are currently hospitalized, a record number since the end of the first wave in April. Of those, 495 are in serious condition, and 138 of them on life support.

The ministry also reported 3,961 new cases on Saturday, bringing the total number of cases since the outbreak began to 152,525, with 37,926 of them currently active.

Additionally, 1,101 COVID-19 patients have died so far. (Haaretz)

6:40 P.M. Almost a million Israelis told to enter isolation since July, Health Ministry data shows 

From July 1 to the present, about 978,000 people were asked to enter isolation, according to a Health Ministry report filed with a Knesset panel. 164,655 of those were in the past week.

Israel has used the Shin Bet security service's systems to monitor those who come into contact with confirmed coronavirus cases. Being the only country to use this kind of technology to monitor the spread of the virus, it has a relatively high number of citizens entering isolation. (Jonathan Lis)

5:56 P.M. Active cases in Israel top 35,000

Israel's Health Ministry reported 1,185 new coronavirus cases since its noon update, bringing the total number of cases since the outbreak began to 148,594, with 35,740 of them active.

979 patients are hospitalized, with 486 in serious condition and 146 of them on life support. 1,090 COVID-19 patients have died so far. (Haaretz)

12:43 P.M. Health Ministry records nine more deaths, bringing total to 1,086

A noon update from Israel's Health Ministry has the current total number of cases at 147,379, out of which 34,731 are considered active. 

The deaths of nine patients were recorded since morning numbers were released, bringing the total death toll to 1,086. There are 482 patients in serious conditions, and 148 of them are currently on ventilators. (Haaretz)

6:51 A.M. Total number of cases rises to 146,542, while active cases drop slightly overnight

Figures from Israel's Health Ministry showed that active cases had gone down overnight to 33,920, as 1,597 were added to the number of patients who had recovered. 

There are currently 489 patients in serious condition in Israeli hospitals, with 134 of them on ventilators. The death toll remains at 1,077. (Haaretz)

1:00 A.M. Israel diagnoses 4,429 news cases in a day

The number of coronavirus cases in Israel rose by 4,429 to reach 34,505 active cases on Thursday, while the death toll rose to 1,077, Health Ministry figures show. 

In addition, 144 patients are on ventilators, 486 are in serious condition and 109,915 cases have recovered.

The ministry added that 41,210 coronavirus tests were conducted on Thursday. (Haaretz)

THURSDAY

11:30 P.M. PM and Health Ministry detail three step plan, lockdown 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Office and the Health Ministry announced in a joint statement Thursday night the details of their new three step plan to fight the coronavirus, set to begin September 18.

The first step of the plan is a two-week nationwide lockdown, in which movement will be limited to a maximum of 500 meters from the home. Additionally, the plan entails: closing the education system, except for special education; closing private and public sector activity, with the exception of essential businesses; mass prayers will be limited to outdoors; Closing restaurants (excluding delivery service), leisure and entertainment, business and commerce and domestic tourism.

The second phase of the plan will include: Limited movement between cities; Limited gatherings; Full closure of restaurants, leisure, entertainment, shopping malls, domestic tourism; Closing the education system, except for special education; The public sector will operate in emergency mode; Private sector will be limited to 30% -50% capacity.

The third and final phase will be going back to the traffic light plan. (Haaretz)

10:40 P.M. Coronavirus cabinet approves two-week nationwide lockdown beginning September 18

Israel's coronavirus cabinet has approved a two-week nationwide lockdown, set to begin September 18, the eve of Rosh Hashanah. The decision, however, is not official until it attains government approval. The government will convene to vote on the measure on Sunday. (Noa Landau

10:18 P.M. Infection rate rises among Haredim, decreases among Arab community

Some 5,100 Haredim have recently tested positive for the coronavirus, making up 25 percent of all new confirmed cases.

A week ago, confirmed cases among the ultra-Orthodox sector made up 22 percent of the nationwide infection rate.  

Meanwhile, the number of new cases among the Arab community constitutes 27.6 percent of the nationwide infection rate. Last week, in comparison, it made up 31.5 percent of the nationwide infection rate. (Aaron Rabinowitz)

7:48 P.M. Israel's death toll rises by 21, breaking daily record

Twenty-one people died from the virus on Thursday, breaking Israel's daily record of fatalities since the start of the pandemic, according to Health Ministry data. Currently, Israel's death toll stands at 1,075.

Figures show that there are now 144,673 confirmed cases in Israel, 33,681 of which are active – an increase of 1,464 since Thursday morning, and an increase of 3,576 from the previous evening.

In addition, 143 patients are on ventilators, while 109,915 cases have recovered.

The ministry added that 44,964 coronavirus tests were conducted on Wednesday. (Haaretz)

7:05 P.M. Israel registers significant rise in infections since opening of school year

Opening the school year on September 1 directly affected the spike in the nationwide infection rate, according to Israel's Health Ministry.

The figures show that a significant rise in confirmed cases among children of all ages was registered immediately after September 1.  

The ministry presented the coronavirus cabinet with the data, adding that "There are signs that opening the school year led to the expansion of the infection circles."  

The sharpest spike in infections was registered among high school students and pupils in grades first through eighth. Furthermore, since the beginning of the school year, some 14,500 students have come into contact with a confirmed patient and subsequently entered quarantine. (Lior Dattal and Ronny Linder)

5:58 P.M. Netanyahu suggests full lockdown while pandemic czar proposes near-complete closure 

Speaking at a coronavirus cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suggested first imposing a full lockdown ahead of the fall holidays and gradually transitioning to a near-complete-lockdown, as was proposed by pandemic czar Ronni Gamzu. (Noa Landau)

Active cases in West Bank top 10,000

The Palestinian Health Ministry said there are 10,080 active coronavirus cases in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. The Gaza Strip has 1,427 cases.

So far, 214 COVID-19 patients died in the West Bank and ten in Gaza. (Haaretz)

3:40 P.M. Cabinet debates holiday lockdown; pandemic czar warns hospitals near full capacity

Israel's coronavirus cabinet is discussing the option of a near-complete lockdown as the number of daily new cases continues to soar. This will include curfews during the High Holy Days, remote learning for all students and the closure of restaurants and venues.

Earlier, coronavirus czar Ronni Gamzu told cabinet ministers that hospitals area nearing their "full capacity."

Alternatively, ministers may decide on a full month-long lockdown to be imposed ahead of the Rosh Hashanah holiday, which begins on September 18. This lockdown is expected to include a 500-meters (0.3 miles) movement restriction from one's home. In addition, gatherings will be limited to up to 10 people indoors and 20 outdoors, as well as a complete transitioning to remote learning and closure of restaurants.

Minister will convene at 5 P.M. to receive a situation assessment.(Noa Landau)

12:12 P.M. Active cases top 32,000

Since the morning, hundreds of new coronavirus cases have been diagnosed, Health Ministry figures show. There are now 143,049 cases diagnosed in Israel, 32,217 of which are active. 

There are 487 patients in serious condition and 961 are hospitalized, of whom 137 are on ventilators. One more patient has died, bringing the national toll to 1,055. 

11:15 A.M. Lieberman in quarantine after contact with patient

Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman and opposition lawmaker Avigdor Lieberman has been sent into self-isolation after contact with a coronavirus carrier during a tour last week.

Two other lawmakers from his party, Oded Forer and Evgeny Sova, have also been sent into self-isolation. (Ido Efrati and Jonathan Lis)

11:02 A.M. Health minister says nationwide lockdown inevitable

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said a nationwide lockdown later this month is virtually inevitable, unless Israelis follow government directives more strictly. Speaking on Army Radio, Edelstein said that “It’s very hard to see what other steps I as health minister, and the health system, can take in order to avoid full lockdown.”

Edelstien added that “we all should know” what the government has decided for the upcoming High Holy Days, before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu departs next week to Washington to participate in the signing ceremony of Israel’s normalization agreement with the United Arab Emirates. The minister also added he “believes” the Israeli delegation to the White House, headed by Netanyahu, “will be reduced as much as possible” so as not to harm efforts to curb the spread of the virus. 

10:42 A.M. Health Ministry director says politics influenced coronavirus decision-making

Health Ministry Director General Chezy Levy said this morning that "political considerations of one public or another have without a doubt played deeply" into some of the decisions made as part of the government's coronavirus response.

In an interview with Ynet, Levy was asked whether he did not take the necessary step of imposing a lockdown due to political considerations. He responded, "We also came with proposals, with a certain dynamic, in order to burden the public as little as possible. According to this, our proposals were accepted."

He added, "But there is no doubt that some of the decisions, at the end of the day, [were made] not just for the sake of health, but were undoubtedly made out of other considerations." (Haaretz)

10:03 A.M. Military cannot keep to virus testing timetable, calls on private companies to fill gaps

The Israeli military is calling on private companies to give price quotes for running coronavirus testing facilities, carrying out home testing and transporting samples to labs, as the IDF cannot keep to its timetable for cutting the chain of infection as the incidence of the virus continues to climb. The Ministry of Defense is requesting 700 million shekels for the Home Front Command, which is overseeing the effort, but the Finance Ministry believes the real cost will be higher.

The Home Front Command center tasked with cutting the chain of infection was established at the beginning of last month, and was tasked with performing 20,000 coronavirus tests a day in the beginning of September, and raising that number to 70,000 a day by the beginning of November. Since its opening, the Home Front Command has only carried out about 24,700 tests in total. 

This gap is not the result of IDF policies alone, but of politics on the state and local levels that have slowed the pace of work. With an approaching lockdown expected, the IDF is trying to catch up. (Yaniv Kobovich)  

8:15 A.M. More than 900 patients hospitalized, fewer on life support

1,485 new coronavirus cases were diagnosed overnight, the Health Ministry says, brining the total number of cases since the outbreak began to 142,582, with 31,769 of them active.

927 patients are currently hospitalized, with 474 of them in serious condition. 133 of them are on life support, down from more than 140 on Wednesday.

1,054 COVID-19 patients died so far. (Haaretz)

WEDNESDAY

11:20 P.M. Health Ministry registers 465 new cases Wednesday night

According to the Health Ministry, 456 new cases of coronavirus were diagnosed since the last update at 8:30 P.M. The total number of new cases on Wednesday night stood at 3,578, raising the number of active cases to 31,686 and the total since the start of the pandemic to 141,097.

Currently 477 patients are in a serious condition and 142 on ventilators. Since the last update, 1 more person died on Wednesday, raising the death toll to 1,054. (Haaretz)

9:00 P.M. Health Ministry to recommend country-wide lockdown

Israel's Health Ministry and coronavirus czar Ronni Gamzu will likely recommend a general lockdown at the cabinet meeting Thursday.

The recommendation will include a country-wide lockdown starting Rosh Hashana, next Thursday Amid an ongoing rise in infections, health officials will recommend that the lockdown last one month and include the shutting down of schools, restaurants, malls, outdoor markets, and event venues. Public transportation will be allowed at a 40 percent capacity, and public spaces like beaches and parks will be open to the public. (Ido Efrati)

>> Click here to read the full report

8:30 P.M. Israel registers 3,093 new cases on Wednesday, breaks severe patients record

According to the Health Ministry, Israel registered 3,093 new cases on Wednesday, raising the number of active cases to 31,263 and the total since the start of the pandemic to 140,658. There are currently 478 patients in serious condition – the highest since the virus' outbreak – and 143 on ventilators. Thirteen people died on Wednesday, raising the death toll to 1,053. 

1:20 P.M. Schools in Ashdod and Beit Shemesh flout coronavirus restrictions 

In Ashdod neighborhoods designated as "red," kindergartens, schools and religious education institutions in several neighborhoods were open, defying government directives.

A teacher from one of the schools said he had not even heard that the institution was supposed to be closed, but stressed that the rules of social distancing were strictly observed. According to him, all the schools in the neighborhood are operating as usual. Most of the residents of the neighborhoods under restrictions in the city are ultra-Orthodox.

In Beit Shemesh, also a "red" city, Mayor Aliza Bloch expressed opposition to the directive but ordered the closure of educational institution under the purview of the municipality. However, private Haredi educational institutions were open as usual. "The closure of schools is a critical error, both from an educational and health perspective," Bloch said. 

In Palestinian neighborhoods of Jerusalem that have been designated as red, schools remained closed. Most of the students who go to school outside the neighborhood's limits also stayed at home. (Bar Peleg, Almog Ben Zikri and Nir Hasson)

11:30 A.M. Deputy education minister attends Hasidic wedding, despite virus fears

Israel's Deputy Education Minister Meir Porush of the ultra-Orthodox party United Torah Judaism took part in a large wedding ceremony on Tuesday of the granddaughter of the admor of the Seret-Vizhnitz Hasidic dynasty in Haifa, despite coronavirus fears. 

The police are examining if Health Ministry regulations were violated during the ceremony. Porush's office said in response that he was only at the wedding for a few minutes. "The deputy minister calls on the public to act according to and obey the instructions of the health authorities," his office said.

This comes as Israel's nightly curfew on 40 "red" cities with a high infection rate came into effect Monday night. (Jonathan Lis and Noa Shpigel)

10:20 A.M. Some private schools, yeshivas open in Bnei Brak 

As public schools closed in the "red" city of Bnei Brak in accordance with government regulations, some private institutions, including some yeshivas, remained open. 

Educational institutions, barring preschools and special education facilities, are to close their doors in cities and neighborhoods deemed red, meaning they have particularly high coronavirus infection rates.

A statement issued Tuesday by the city told residents to check with the specific school or yeshiva to see if it was open. This comes after Rabbi Gershon Edelstein, a prominent ultra-Orthodox leader, called on yeshivas to continue studies despite government restrictions this week. (Bar Peleg)

TUESDAY

10:20 P.M. Arab community's coronavirus czar tests positive 

The head of the fight against the coronavirus in Arab communities, Ayman Saif, has tested positive for the virus on Tuesday, announced the Health Ministry. 

"I have initiated dozens of tours and field visits to 'red' cities and villages, where the infection rates are high," which heightened his chances to get infected, said Saif in a letter. "The disease will not prevent me from continuing to fight for the eradication of the disease by all means and with all my might." (Haaretz)

10:13 P.M. In a week, coronavirus closes 42 schools, 150 preschools across Israel

One week after the beginning of the school year, the Education Ministry on Tuesday published data of the rate of coronavirus infection in the education system for the first time. But the data is only partial, since it does not take into account areas in cities currently designated “red” and does not include the teaching staff who were infected with the virus last week.

According to the data, since September 1, 42 schools and 150 preschools have been closed as a result of instances of the virus. In total there are now 1,817 students with the virus, with 24,780 students in isolation. (Shira Kadari-Ovadia)

>> Click here to read the full report

10:00 P.M. Israel records 3,184 new cases Tuesday 

Israel recorded 3,184 new cases of the coronavirus on Tuesday, bringing the total number of cases to 137,159, the Health Ministry said. Seventeen more patients died, bringing the death toll to 1,040.

The number of patients in serious condition rose to 454, with 143 on ventilators. According to Health Ministry statistics, there are currently 29,123 active cases of the virus in Israel. (Haaretz)

9:30 P.M. Health Minister, staff quarantined after exposure to patient

Israel's Health Minister Yuli Edelstein as well as his deputy Yoav Kisch, Director General of the ministry Hezi Levy and other senior staff members were asked to quarantine on Tuesday after they came in contact with a staff member who tested positive for the virus earlier. (Haaretz) 

8:30 P.M. Knesset member Yinon Azulai of Shas tests positive for virus

8:20 P.M. Police say will not deploy reinforcement forces, set up checkpoints as nightly curfew begins

Israel police said that at this stage, they do not intend to deploy reinforcement forces or set up checkpoints at the entrances to neighborhoods, according to local decisions of the station commanders.

Police say they can not prevent people from violating the nightlu curfew, which took effect tonight, "at any cost" and that they trust the personal responsibility of citizens. (Josh Breiner)

7:30 P.M. Israel's coronavirus czar quarantined after exposure to patient

Israel's coronavirus czar Prof. Ronni Gamzu was asked to quarantine on Tuesday after coming into contact with a confirmed coronavirus patient, a Health Ministry statement said. "Prof. Gamzu will continue to run the fight against the coronavirus from quarantine and on this occasion emphasizes the duty of exercising extreme caution and the need to self-isolate even with slight exposure to prevent the possibility of infection," said the statement. (Haaretz) 

7:00 P.M. Nightly curfew in 40 Israeli coronavirus hot spots goes into effect

A nightly curfew on 40 towns and neighborhoods across Israel began Tuesday, in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus in hardest hit localities.

The curfew, which will last until September 15, takes effect daily from 7 P.M. until 5 A.M. During curfews, residents will be able to walk up to 500 meters (0.3 miles) from their homes, and all businesses that are not essential will be closed.

>> Read more here 

4:20 P.M. Coronavirus czar says infection rates in 'red' cities among highest in the world

Israel's coronavirus czar Prof. Ronni Gamzu said Tuesday that the infection rate in Israel's "red" cities is among the highest in the world. According to Gamzu, "There are not many such countries in the world. I have to protect the residents. What we are doing is not pleasant for the residents but it is also protective. It is a means of reducing the infection rate."

Gamzu also said the number of tests should grow to 100,000 a day by November 1, adding he also intends to improve contact tracing. (Ido Efrati)

11:59 A.M. Israeli ministers approve nightly curfew on 40 hot spots

The Ministerial Committee for Restricted Areas approved a list compiled by the Health Ministry of localities that will be subject to a night curfew starting Tuesday. 

The curfew, which will last a week, will take effect daily from 7 P.M. until 5 A.M. During curfews, residents will be able to walk up to 500 meters from their homes, and all businesses that are not essential will be closed. In addition, the education system in these localities will shift to distance learning.

Restrictions:

1.       Nightly curfew from 7 P.M. until 5 A.M. for a week.

2.       Movement limited to up to 500 meters from home during curfew hours.

3.       Only essential businesses to operate during curfew hours

4.       Education system to shift to distance learning (except special education)

5.       Gatherings in closed spaces to be limited to up to 10 people, and up to 20 in open areas

The localities on which a night curfew will be imposed are: Abu Sanan; Umm al-Fahm; Shahamon neighborhood in Eilat; Elad; Neighborhoods C, Z, and H in Ashdod; Mitzpe Barnea, Ganei Barnea, Neot Barnea, Givat Zion and Karmei Zion neighborhoods in Ashkelon; Buqata; Beit Shemesh; Bnei Brak; the settlement of Najidat in the municipal area Bouina Najidat area; Baqa al-Gharbiya; Julis; Jaljulya; Jatt; Daliat al-Carmel; the Abtan community in the Zemer local council; Taibeh; Tira; Yafia; the neighborhoods of Kfar Akev, Beit Hanina, Ramat Shlomo, Ramot, A-Tur, Isawiyah, Anata, Shuafat refugee camp and Sanhedria in Jerusalem; the Kisra community in the Kisra-Samia local council; Kfar Bara; Kfar Manda; Kfar Qasem, except for the Lev Haaretz and Nof Haaretz industrial zones; Kfar Kara; Lakiya local council; the communities of Mushirfa and Salem in the Ma'ale Iron local council; Nazareth; Netivot; Ein Mahel; Asfiya; Arara; Fureidis; Kalansua; Reineh; Rechasim; Neot Yitzhak Rabin and Neot Haneviim neighborhoods in Sderot; And Shfaram. (Ido Efrati)

12:20 A.M. Israel breaks daily case record with 3,331 new infections

Israel recorded 3,331 new cases of the coronavirus on Monday, bringing the total number of cases to 133,975, the Health Ministry said. Seven patients died, bringing the death toll to 1,026.

The number of patients in serious condition rose to 470, with 135 on ventilators. According to Health Ministry statistics, there are currently 27,497 active cases of the virus in Israel. (Haaretz)

MONDAY

8:10 P.M. Netanyahu says cases not linked to protests because demonstrators shut off phones

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed on Monday that no cases of coronavirus had been traced back to weekly protests held against him because demonstrators were "instructed to turn off their phones," so that security services are unable to track them.

Netanyahu had been asked during a press conference why he was presenting the protests against him as a health hazard, despite the Health Ministry saying that no infections had been traced back to the demonstrations in Jerusalem since late August. In his answer, the prime minister claimed protesters were instructed to shut off their phones so they could not be tracked as part of contact tracing.

In response to Netanyahu, the protest group Crime Minister said: "It is depressing and scary to see a prime minister lying on live television. Any child knows that a phone that has been turned off can be tracked as well." (Bar Peleg)

6:55 P.M. Coronavirus czar says holiday plan will be ready by week's end

Coronavirus czar Ronni Gamzu said that he will present a plan to curb the infection rate for the Jewish High Holy Days to the coronavirus cabinet by the end of the week.

Speaking at a press conference with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Gamzu added that he still wants to avoid a nation-wide lockdown, and that he will not resign despite the ministers' decision to act against his professional opinion, including locking down "red" cities. "I'm moving forward, I'm getting backup, anyone who thinks that I'm quitting doesn't know me," Gamzu said.

6:37 P.M. Health care professionals tell coronavirus committee not to impose lockdown

Doctors and researchers who attended the Knesset’s coronavirus committee meeting on Monday on the infection rate data and testing policy called for the idea of a lockdown to be taken off the agenda, and said that the move did not prove to be a solution to the pandemic.

"We need to stop this fear and stop talking about the lockdown," said Prof. Udi Qimron, a professor of microbiology at Tel Aviv University, adding: "Everyone should be allowed to choose whether they want to put on a mask or not, and open up public transportation. That way we can produce chains of immunity. "

Recently, there has been growing opposition from doctors and researchers in the health system to the government's intention to take strict measures and impose lockdowns on ‘red’ cities, and later even impose a nationwide lockdown. Last week, 120 doctors and scientists publicly backed a petition to avoid imposing lockdowns, despite the increase in the daily number of new diagnoses. The signatories urged the government to focus on measures to protect the most vulnerable population from the virus, led by the elderly, and to prevent far-reaching collective measures.

MK Yifat Shasha-Biton (Likud), chairwoman of the Coronavirus Committee, said at the beginning of the debate: "For quite some time now, the national lockdown has been looming over us; I argue that we are in an epidemiological reality that requires it. We looked through the data here, we didn't see dramatic data.

"In the last week there has been a feeling that we are facing a catastrophe,” she said. “It was important for me to see” that we did not miss any data here. The rise in infection is due to an increase in the number of tests, Shasha-Biton explained. “We have no idea how things compare to today to yesterday and a week ago." (Ido Efrati)

5:52 P.M. Virus czar retracts comment about Haredi rabbi instructing students not to get tested

Israel’s coronavirus czar Prof. Roni Gamzu on Monday that he was retracting his remarks about the leader of the Lithuanian ultra-Orthodox public, Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, claiming the rabbi had instructed yeshiva students not to undergo testing for COVID-19. 

Upon closer inspection, “Rabbi Kanievsky did not instruct  students not to undergo tests, but rather there was a decision given by a number of rabbis regarding specific cases among yeshiva students who stayed in closed capsules after having a coronavirus test, and were acting in accordance with pre-determined procedures. Therefore, I regret the misunderstanding following the erroneous publication in Rabbi Kanievsky’s name, whom I respect and cherish.”

Last week, people close to Rabbi Kanievsky said that he had approved several yeshivas not to to test their students for coronavirus, because the tests and isolation imposed on the students following them impede Torah studies. Following this, Gamzu said that "the announcement endangers the ultra-Orthodox public spreading the infection." 

Later, however, others close to the rabbi said that no such instruction had been given. (Bar Peleg, Aaron Rabinowitz)

5:30 P.M. Health Min. officially postpones curfew to Wednesday

In a statement on Tuesday, the Health Ministry said that in light of continued deliberations with mayors and municipalities on the application of a nighttime curfew on coronavirus hot spots, it was now officially pushed back until Wednesday at 7:00 P.M.

The statement added that a full list of the cities to be curfewed will be published after it is approved a ministerial committee. (Haaretz)

5:00 P.M. Coronavirus cabinet votes to extend workplace guidelines

The coronavirus cabinet voted to extend the guidelines for offices and workplaces to October 5, a joint statement from the Finance Ministry and Prime Minister's Office said.

These coronavirus guidelines, which have been extended for another 28 days, say that any workplace with more than 10 employees must keep a distance of two meters between employees, observe proper hygiene and mask wearing, take temperatures at the entrance and take other precautions to prevent the spread of the virus.

4:00 P.M. For second day in row, Netanyahu's cabinet fails to implement curfews

The government will not vote on Monday on a plan to place a list of coronavirus hot spots under curfew, because of last-minute differences. This marks the second day the cabinet fails to implement its plan, as on Sunday the planned lockdowns were scrapped at the last minute due to political pressure.

The nighttime curfews planned for tonight in about 40 locales designated as "red" due to their high coronavirus infection rate will not go into effect, due to disagreements regarding the list of cities. Yesterday, the Ministerial Committee for Restricted Zones approved placing a curfew and transitioning to distance learning in red towns, and the ministers were supposed to decide today which particular locales will be put on this list.

The curfew is supposed to take place nightly, beginning at 7 P.M. and ending at 5 A.M. for one week. Between these hours, residents will only be able to move 500 meters from their homes, barring exceptional circumstances. Non-essential businesses are also to close during these hours. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu backtracked yesterday on his intention to place local lockdowns on ten cities, due to opposition from ultra-Orthodox mayors. (Ido Efrati) 

2:40 P.M. Greece to open borders with Israel 

Greece will open its borders to Israeli travelers starting September 15, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said Monday, adding that the agreement is a testament to the warm ties between Israel and Greece.

There will be no limitation on destinations and number of tourists allowed to enter the country, although travelers will be required to present a negative coronavirus test. (Noa Landau)

2:20 P.M. Lieberman calls on public to disregard gov't COVID instructions

Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman called on the public Monday not to adhere to the government's COVID instructions, saying it has failed to manage the crisis. Instead, he said at a party meeting, the public should "follow common sense."

"The government has lost the public trust and does not deserve it," added Lieberman. "The way to deal with the problem right now is through the local government. The coronavirus cabinet should be canceled." (Haaretz)

1:45 P.M. Committee hears argument in favor of herd immunity

Prof. Udi Kimron from the Faculty of Medicine at Tel Aviv University voiced his opposition to restrictive measures at the Knesset's coronavirus committee. "Stop scaring people and stop talking about a lockdown," he said, "Every person must choose if they want to wear a mask, and public transportation should resume. This is how we build chains of immunity."

Kimron's remarks join growing voices in the medical community to avoid a lockdown and focus instead on protection of vulnerable populations. (Ido Efrati)

1:21 P.M. Over 170 students test positive since opening of school year

Health Ministry data shows that since the opening of the school year on September 1, 172 students were diagnosed with the coronavirus in schools and preschools and 62 new cases were diagnosed among teaching staffs.

Health Ministry representatives presented that data in a discussion held on the matter by the Knesset Education Committee.

In addition, figures show that a total of 4,360 students and 720 teaching staffers are currently quarantined. (Shira Kadari-Ovadia)

11:32 A.M. Thousands of soldiers to be deployed in coronavirus hot spots, Gantz says 

Defense Minister Benny Gantz said he had ordered thousands of soldiers to assist in the 40 cities and towns defined as coronavirus hot spots. 

In a visit to Kafr Qassem, one of the localities where infection rates are high, Gantz said soldiers will take part with the expected nighttime curfews, including enforcing movement restrictions, testing and contact tracing. "We're not here to punish, we came to work together," said Gantz. (Yaniv Kubovich)

11:28 A.M. Israel reports 27,000 active cases

Israel's Health Ministry said the number of active coronavirus cases currently stands at 27,099, raising nationwide tally of confirmed cases to 131,970. The death toll stands at 1,022.

10:40 A.M. About 1,000 new COVID-19 cases reported since Sunday, as cabinet to decide where nighttime lockdowns will be imposed

Roughly 1,000 new coronavirus cases have been reported in Israel since Sunday, the Health Ministry reported Monday morning. There are 449 patients in serious condition, a drop of four from the day before and a total of 916 patients in the hospital, down six since from Sunday. The death toll in Israel since the outbreak of the pandemic remains unchanged at 1,019.

On Sunday, the coronavirus cabinet approved a resolution that will impose a lockdown on about 40 locations around the country where the incidence of COVID-19 is highest. A decision will be made on Monday regarding which communities will subject to the lockdown, which will remain in effect for a week from 7 P.M. to 5 A.M.  

Residents under lockdown will be limited to venturing no more than 500 meters (1,640 feet) from home, other than under extenuating circumstances. Businesses that are not considered essential services will also be required to close in the evening. Schools will not operate in these locations at any time during the day, other than for high school matriculation exams and other standardized testing.

The evening and nighttime closure is being put in place instead of a more stringent lockdown that had been proposed for 10 locales with particularly high rates of the coronavirus. For the most part those towns are either ultra-Orthodox or Arab. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reconsidered that plan amid strenuous objecton from mayors in the ultra-Orthodox towns on the list. (Ido Efrati and Noa Landau)

SUNDAY

9:10 P.M. Israel approves imposing nightly curfew on 'red' cities 

The ministerial committee for determining restricted areas in Israel approved a nighttime curfew on "red" cities with a high coronavirus infection rate on Sunday night. (Ido Efrati)

4:30 P.M. Netanyahu delays lockdown decision after threat from ultra-Orthodox mayors

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to postpone the ministerial meeting scheduled to discuss the proposed lockdown on a number of municipalities, neighborhoods and two settlements, after ultra-Orthodox mayors sent him a letter saying they plan to cease cooperation with government authorities in the fight against the coronavirus in light of the expected decision. (Aaron Rabinowitz)

3:30 P.M. Haredi mayors inform Netanyahu they plan to cease cooperation with gov't over proposed lockdown

The mayors of four predominantly ultra-Orthodox municipalities sent a letter Sunday to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, informing him that they plan to cease cooperation with government authorities in the fight against the coronavirus in light of an expected decision to impose a lockdown on their cities. (Aaron Rabinowitz)

2:23 P.M. No cases diagnosed at anti-Netanyahu protests, Health Ministry official says

An expert in infectious diseases and public health at the Health Ministry, Dr. Arik Hess, said that as of August 26, not even a single coronavirus case was diagnosed at protests calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Jonathan Lis)

10:42 A.M. Israel extends state of emergency

The Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee approved extending Israel's coronavirus state of emergency by 60 days, to November 6.

According to Health Ministry figures, three more patients died of the coronavirus overnight, bringing the national death toll to 1,010. There have been 129,349 cases diagnosed in Israel, of which 26,232 are active. (Jonathan Lis

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