26-year-old Dies of Complications From COVID-19 in Israel

Weddings, events of up to 250 people allowed ■ Health minister cautions over 'dramatic' rise in new cases ■ Palestinians report 72 active cases in the West Bank, 26 in Gaza

Haaretz
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Israeli medical personnel take samples at a drive through COVID-19 testing facility in Ramat Hasharon in the suburbs of Tel Aviv, on June 1, 2020.
Israeli medical personnel take samples at a drive through COVID-19 testing facility in Ramat Hasharon in the suburbs of Tel Aviv, on June 1, 2020.Credit: JACK GUEZ/AFP
Haaretz

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Israel has seen a spike in coronavirus cases as schools, businesses, restaurants, bars, tourist attractions and other establishments reopen. Schools throughout the country have closed after cases tied to students and staff members continue to climb. 

■ 19,055 people in Israel have so far tested positive for the coronavirus; 300 people have died. In the West Bank and East Jerusalem, 601 people tested positive; two people have died. In the Gaza Strip, 72 people were diagnosed and one person has died. 

■ Coronavirus tracker: Live stats of cases and deaths

LIVE UPDATES

10:20 P.M. 26-year-old Israeli dies of complications from COVID-19

A 26-year-old man died of complications from COVID-19 at Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, the hospital announced. Oshri Asulin, of Kfar Saba, is the youngest coronavirus patient in Israel to pass away from complications related to the illness. (Bar Peleg)

8:20 P.M. Israel logs 83 new virus cases in 24 hours

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Israel has risen to 19,055, an increase of 83 from the previous evening. The death toll remains at 300. Israel currently has 3,380 active cases of the coronavirus with 24 patients on ventillators. The vast majority of patients are in mild condition. (Haaretz)

4:30 P.M. Government appoints new Health Ministry director general 

The Israeli government approved Sunday the appointment of Prof. Hezi Levi, the former director of the Barzilai Medical Center,
as the new director general of the Health Ministry. Levi will replace Moshe Bar Siman Tov, who announced his intention to resign last month. 

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said he was confident that Levi "will be very helpful in leading the [health] system in the challenging period ahead of us, especially in dealing with the coronavirus." According to Edelstein, "Levi has a great deal of experience in the health care system - in the IDF, in a hospital and in the Ministry of Health." (Haaretz)

11:54 A.M. Health Ministry nominates new director general

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein announced that Professor Hezi Levi was officially appointed as director general of the Health Ministry. 

"Prof. Hezi Levy has the most experience in the health system - in the IDF, in a hospital and in the Ministry of Health," Edelstein said in a short statement. "I am sure he will be of great help in leading the system in the challenging time ahead, especially in dealing with the coronavirus."

Levy replaces Moshe Bar Siman Tov, who stepped down earlier this month, after close to 5 years at his post. Although his tenure was plagued with reports of managerial issues and interpersonal tensions, bordering on harassment, his leading role in the Israeli response to the coronavirus outbreak was well-received. (Haaretz

7:49 A.M. Arab authority in Israel reports 16.6% increase in cases in past week, double from week before

Israel's Arab Emergency Committee announced that 48 new cases of coronavirus have been identified in the Arab community over the weekend. These figures do not include cities in which the population is mixed or East Jerusalem. 

This brings the weekly total to 196, with 137 alone diagnosed in Arab communities in the Negev. According to calculations based on data from the Ministry of Health, this represents an increase of 16.6% in the last week, compared with 8.5% in the week before.

The city of Baqa al-Gharbiya, in nothern Israel, in which eight cases were identified in the last week, including three over the weekend, decided to close schools until Tuesday. (Jack Khoury)

SATURDAY

10:00 P.M. President won't be required to quarantine yet, residence says

President Reuven Rivlin won't be required to enter quarantine at this stage, the President's Residence says, after an employee at the residence tested positive. The residence will be closed on Sunday for disinfection and testing, while work continues to track who was in contact with the infected employee. (Haaretz) 

9:20 P.M. Palestinians report 72 active cases in West Bank and East Jerusalem, 26 in Gaza

The Palestinian Health Ministry says 601 Palestinians have tested positive for the coronavirus in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, of which 72 are currently active cases. In the Gaza Strip, there are currently 26 active cases out of the 72 cases diagnosed since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the ministry. (Jack Khoury)

9:00 P.M. Employee at President's Residence tests positive for coronavirus

An employee at President Reuven Rivlin's Residence tested positive for coronavirus. The President's residence released a statement Saturday night saying that a meeting is being held with relevant Health Ministry officials regarding quarantine status for the rest of the employees and the relevant measures that need to be taken by the president. (Jonathan Lis)

8:50 P.M. 493 students and teachers test positive, 177 institutions closed

Statistics released Saturday evening by the Education Ministry show that 493 Israelis within the education system have tested positive for the coronavirus and 25,821 are currently in preventative quarantine, out of over 2 million students and 200 thousand educators. 

Thus far, 177 educational institutions have closed after discovering cases out of 5,200 schools and 20 thousand kindergartens. (Shira Kadari-Ovadia)

8:30 P.M. Number of cases in Israel nears 19,000, rising by 177 cases in a day

The number of total coronavirus cases in Israel has risen to 18,972, the Health Ministry reported, marking a rise of 177 over Friday's figures. This marks the highest number of COVID-19 diagnoses in one day since April 25. 

There are 3,315 active cases, with 26 people on ventilators. The death toll remains at 300. The number of tests conducted Friday was 12,578, according to the ministry. (Shira Kadari-Ovadia)

8:00 P.M. Three of Netanyahu’s security personnel test positive for coronavirus

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tested negative for coronavirus after three of his security personnel that guard his residence tested positive. Netanyahu was not required to quarantine after the test. 

A statement by the prime minister's office said that an epidemiological investigation was launched and all those that were in contact with the guards were also tested. (Noa Landau)

FRIDAY

6:47 P.M. Student in Golan Heights school diagnosed

A student in a girls' religious school in Katzrin was diagnosed with COVID-19, sending 179 students and 35 educators into isolation until an epidemiological report is completed. Studies will continue through distance learning. (Jack Khoury)

6:30 P.M. Number of cases in Israel rises to 18,795, an increase of 226 

The number of total coronavirus cases in Israel has risen to 18,795, the Health Ministry reported, marking a rise of 226 over Thursday's figures. This marks the highest number of COVID-19 diagnoses in one day since April 25. 

There are 3,185 active cases, with 25 people on ventilators. The death toll remains at 300. The number of tests conducted Thursday was 15,482, according to the ministry. 

6:19 P.M. Two Ramat Gan schools close over cases

Two cases of coronavirus were discovered in Ramat Gan schools, both in eighth grade. Both schools in the Tel Aviv suburb are closing, and studies will continue through distance learning. (Bar Peleg)

6:00 P.M. Palestinians report 95 active cases, including 26 in Gaza

The Palestinian Health Ministry says 669 Palestinians have been infected since the beginning of the pandemic. There are 95 active cases, including 26 in the Gaza Strip, according to the ministry. (Jack Khoury)

5:00 P.M. Israeli Health Ministry second-in-command apologizes for letting businessman break quarantine

Health Ministry Deputy Director-General Itamar Grotto apologized for allowing a billionaire to forego mandatory coronavirus quarantine after returning from abroad, saying that he was misled, and that he had made the choice for valid reasons. 

In a letter to Director General Moshe Bar Siman Tov, Grotto said that billionaire businessman Teddy Sagi misled him about the purpose of his visit, and that he had made the decision to allow him to attend an event in accordance with Health Ministry policy. Grotto also complained to his boss that he was being unfairly demonized in the media. (Haaretz)

2:00 P.M. Government approves events with up to 250 guests

The government has approved new coronavirus regulations allowing events of up to 250 people, starting Sunday. The government decided that event halls will be allowed to open for weddings, religious ceremonies, including bar and bat mitzvahs.

The number of guests will be limited to one guest per two square meters of floor space in the event hall, and will not exceed 250.

In addition, venue owners must obtain lists of all event goers and their phone numbers and keep the information for 20 days. In the case that a guest tests positive for coronavirus after an event, must provide all other guests' contact information to the Health Ministry. 

Other non-wedding or religious events will be held within the previously established orders, to take place in an open area, and the number of participants will not exceed 50 people. (Noa Landau)

THURSDAY

7:40 P.M. Israel diagnoses 214 new cases, highest number in nearly two months

According to the Health Ministry, 214 people were diagnosed with COVID-19 in Israel on Thursday. The total number of cases now stands at 18,569, with 3,019 of those being active. So far, 15,250 have recovered, 63 of them on Thursday.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cautioned during a statement to the press that Israel may have to reimpose restrictions on movement and businesses if Health Ministry instructions to the public are not followed, as the infection rate continues to rise.

"The rise isn't as precipitous as it was before, but it's quite steep. And it's climbing rapidly. The distance between the point we are at and the peak of morbidity there was in Israel is ten days," he said. (Haaretz)

10:30 A.M. Health Ministry director general demands answers from deputy for alleged quarantine exemption for billionaire

Health Ministry Director General Moshe Bar Siman Tov told his deputy Itamar Grotto Wednesday night that an "immediate conclusion must be drawn" if Grotto did exempt billionaire Teddy Sagi from entering quarantine after his return from abroad.

Yesterday, Bar Simon Tov wrote to Grotto demanding an explanation in light of the Channel 12 news report, which alleged that Grotto gave Sagi a permit to not self-isolate after the billionaire's return from Cyprus on his private jet. Bar Siman also demanded to know whether similar incidents took place in the past. (Ido Efrati and Ronny Linder)

10:09 A.M. 442 Students, teachers, have tested positive for COVID-19

As of Thursday morning, there are 442 students and educators who have tested positive for the coronavirus in Israel, out of 2.3 million students and 200 thousand teaching staff.

There are currently 23,996 students and educators in isolation. (Shira Kadari-Ovadia

WEDNESDAY

12:00 A.M. Permission for government to use Shin Bet tracking has lapsed

The approval to track coronavirus patients via the Shin Bet security service lapsed on midnight Wednesday. It was not renewed after the government froze the legislation to anchor it into law because of internal disagreements. (Noa Landau)

TUESDAY

10:00 P.M. Health minister orders explanation from deputy director general over suspicion that he exempt a billionaire from quarantine

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein on Wednesday instructed Director General of the Health Ministry Moshe Bar Siman Tov to request a clear statement from his deputy Itamar Grotto, who allegedly exempted an Israeli billionaire from mandatory quarantine orders.

Grotto reportedly exempt billionaire businessman Teddy Sagi from mandatory quarantine after returning to the country from Cyprus on his private jet, as reported on Channel 12 news. The Health Ministry later said granting Sagi permission not to quarantine was wrong.

"This is a serious infraction on the public's trust and a serious error in judgement," Edelstein said as the details were published. "I won't be forgiving with cases like these." Edelstein added that he will investigate the matter "with all of the significant resources at his disposal," and that he expects an answer by Thursday.

According to the report, Sagi originally referred to Bar Siman Tov, and had his request denied. The billionaire then turned to Grotto. The Health Ministry considered charging Sagi with violating quarantine, a crime that carries a 5,000 shekel fine, but Sagi then produced an official permit from Grotto. 

Those close to Sagi says that he produced medical documents in order to get the exemption and that Cyprus is a country with very few coronavirus cases. Sagi said in response, "Teddy Sagi arrived in Israel legally, acted according to the law and according to the appropriate regulations that he received." (Ido Efrati)

8:30 P.M. Israel diagnoses 175 new coronavirus cases

According to the Health Ministry, 175 people were diagnosed with the coronavirus on Wednesday, raising the number of active cases to 2,869. Of those, 22 are on ventilators and 13 have recovered over the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of recoveries to 15,187. The death toll stands at 299. (Haaretz)

5:25 P.M. 140 foreign nationals tested positive in the past month 

Between May 1 and June 8, 140 foreign nationals tested positive for coronavirus, some of whom have Israeli insurance and some don't. of these cases, 85 live in Tel Aviv-Jaffa. (Bar Peleg)

2:45 P.M. Israel to stop Shin Bet tracking after gov't freezes legislation

At midnight the approval to track coronavirus patients through the Shin Bet security service will not be renewed after the government froze the legislation to anchor it into law because of internal disagreements. (Noa Landau)

11:21 A.M. Israeli minister to enter quarantine after staffer diagnosed with coronavirus

Science and Technology Minister Izhar Shay (Kahol Lavan) was informed that one of his staffers had contracted the coronavirus.

Shay, who attended the memorial of slain army Staff Sgt. Amit Ben-Yigal when receiving the message, will enter 14-day quarantine, as well as all his team members who came into contact with the infected staffer. (Jonathan Lis)

10:41 P.M. Tel Aviv sees highest spike in cases this month, report shows

According to a report by the National Center for Information and Knowledge in the Battle on the Coronavirus, as of Monday, 129 patients have been diagnosed in Tel Aviv since the beginning of June. On Tuesday night, 37 more Tel Aviv residents were diagnosed. 

The report notes that in the past week, the positive test results in Tel Aviv stand at two percent, higher than the national average. The rate at which the coronavirus is doubling is also higher in the city. 

Most of the coronavirus patients identified in Tel Aviv in the past week are relatively young, aged 20 to 49, mostly concentrated in south Tel Aviv and Jaffa. In those two areas, a number of schools have been closed last week after students and staff were diagnosed with COVID-19.

The report also states that out of all the newly diagnosed patients, at least 66 are foreign workers or asylum seekers who were located after increased efforts to understand the morbidity rate and stop the spread of the virus among the population. (Bar Peleg

8:40 P.M. Officials decide to boost enforcement of coronavirus regulations in urgent meeting

National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat has held an urgent meeting on tightening enforcement of coronavirus regulations with a number of officials, including the interior and health ministers and their ministries’ directors-general. The officials in the meeting decided that given an upward trend in the spread of the virus, authorities should immediately begin increasing enforcement of four regulations in particular: mask-wearing; limiting gatherings; distancing rules in businesses and shopping centers; isolation of those infected and those who were in contact with them. (Haaretz)

7:30 P.M. Israel diagnoses 148 new coronavirus cases

According to the Health Ministry, 148 people were diagnosed with the coronavirus on Tuesday, raising the number of active cases to 2,722. Of those, 24 are on ventilators and 21 have recovered over the last 24 hours, and one person has died, raising the death toll to 299. (Haaretz)

6:16 P.M. Officials to discuss enforcement of coronavirus restrictions

After meeting with the public security and interior ministers, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has instructed National Security Council chief Meir Ben Shabbat to hold a meeting with the ministers, the director general of the Health Ministry and other officials to discuss tightening enforcement due to the surge in cases. (Noa Landau)    

5:15 P.M. Health Minister Yuli Edelstein: Israel is hurtling toward 200 new cases a day

Amid a rise in coronavirus cases, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein visited Soroka Medical Center, medical facilities in Rahat and a general clinic in the Negev, according to a press release.

During the visit, the minister said that the increase in new cases, almost 200 a day, is “dramatic,” and added that ministry guidelines should not be treated as a recommendation, otherwise “the coronavirus will not leave us. The most effective way to treat the virus without harming the economy is strict enforcement.”

“There is no difference between the enforcement of traffic laws and the enforcement of the coronavirus [restrictions]. Anyone going around without a mask is like someone driving at a speed of 160 kilometers an hour. In all of 2019, 349 people were killed in traffic accidents. In the past three months, 298 people have died from the coronavirus and more than 18,000 have been made sick. Everyone should do the math. Only when that is the approach will we be able to dramatically reduce the coronavirus.”

Edelstein added that besides the enforcement, Israel needs to significantly increase testing. “We are doing that, and in recent days we have surpassed 16,000 tests a day. Our goal is to exceed 30,000 tests a day.” (Haaretz)

3:51 P.M. Israeli ministers push forward coronavirus restrictions bill

Israel’s Ministerial Committee for Legislation votes to support a bill that would give the cabinet wide-ranging powers to impose restrictions to combat the coronavirus.

The bill consists of emergency legislation that would remain in effect for 10 months and would authorize the cabinet to declare a state of emergency, impose curfews or lockdowns on individual homes or neighborhoods, halt public transportation, limit the number of staff employed in a workplace and impose fines on violators. (Jonathan Lis)

Read the full story

3:21 P.M. 407 students and teachers test positive, 139 institutions closed

Statistics released Tuesday by the Education Ministry show that 407 Israelis within the education system have tested positive for the coronavirus and 21,877 are currently in preventative quarantine, out of over 2 million students and 200 thousand educators. 

Thus far, 139 educational institutions have closed after discovering cases, out of 5,200 schools and 200 thousand kindergartens. (Shira Kadari-Ovadia)

MONDAY

8:00 P.M. Number of confirmed cases surpasses 18,000

Israel confirmed 169 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, the Health Ministry reported, bringing the total number of cases to 18,032. So far, 298 confirmed COVID-19 patients have died. The vast majority of patients have recovered. There are 2,607 active cases of the virus in Israel, and 23 people are on ventilators.

6:00 P.M. Sixty-three schools and kindergartens to reopen this week

The Education Ministery announced that 63 schools and kindergartens are set to reopen this week and resume normal activities after students and staff completed a mandatory quarantine period following a confirmed case of coronavirus at the school.

Currently, 385 cases of the coronavirus have been diagnosed among student and staff at educational institutions and 135 schools have been closed.

5:30 P.M. Gantz says events of 250 people will be allowed, emergency powers bill to be voted on next week

Defense Minister Benny Gantz said on Twitter that the Knesset will vote on a bill to legalize government use of emergency powers in the face of the coronavirus next week. Gantz added that Israel will allow events of up to 250 people to take place, while following Health Ministry regulations.

Gantz added that he hopes the rate of infection drops so that Israel can allow event halls to return to full operation.

4:20 P.M. Tel Aviv municipality to avoid giving fines to business owners who violate restrictions

Following public criticism, the Tel Aviv municipality announced that they would avoid fining businesses who violate the regulations meant to curb the spread of the coronaviurs in the coming days.

"The municipality will focus on explanatory efforts in the coming days and giving warnings to business ownered  with the intention of resuming stronger enforcement against businesses who continue to violate the health regulations," said a statement from the municipality. "The municipality isn't aiming to fill its coffers, rather to protect public health and we expect the full cooperation of businesses to achieve this goal."

Over the last week, the municipality has given out over 600 fines to businesses who violated regulations, totaling hundreds of thousands of shekels, despite business owners' complaints that the regulations are confusing and it is unclear how to implement them on the ground.

4:00 P.M. Bill to extend Shin Bet tracking frozen

A bill to extend the Shin Bet security service's tracking of COVID-19 patients was frozen for 48-hours Monday after the Knesset panel managing the coronavirus crisis failed to reach an agreement on the matter.

The Health Ministry told the Knesset subcommittee for intelligence that it has only referred to the Shin Bet once in the past two weeks, asking to use cellular tracking data to locate people who have been in contact with a confirmed patient.

According to ministers who took part in the discussion, the bill was frozen after the the head of the Shin Bet, Nadav Argaman, asked that the bill be frozen. Ministers said that Argaman recommended the use of civilian methods to track suspected patients, like the Hamagen app, be developed instead.

Read the full story

1:28 P.M. Cabinet expected to approve widening event attendance to 250

A special ministerial committee on the coronavirus, dubbed the 'Coronavirus Cabinet,' is expected to approve an increase in the quota of participants in event venues to up to 250 people.

It was also announced that train operations will remain suspended. The situation will be re-examined in a week, depending on the progress of the outbreak. (Noa Landau)

9:21 A.M. Total number of cases in Israel nears 18,000

New figures released by the National Security Council show that 17,924 people have tested positive for coronavirus in Israel. Of those, 2,523 are active cases, with 29 of them in serious condition, and 23 on ventilators.

There were no new reported deaths, with the total standing at 298. (Noa Landau)

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