Aliyah and Integration Minister Tests Positive for Coronavirus

No decision on new lockdown before September 10 ■ Confirmed cases pass 100,000 ■ Passengers returning from 'green' countries no longer have to self-isolate ■ Israeli Arab panel reports 1,600 new cases in a week

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Israelis wearing face masks as they walk the streets of Jerusalem, August 2020.
Israelis wearing face masks as they walk the streets of Jerusalem, August 2020.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
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Haaretz

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Israel and the West Bank 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.

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103,274 people in Israel have so far tested positive for the coronavirus; 839 people have died. 

In the West Bank, there are 8,953 active cases; 130 people have died. In the Gaza Strip, there are 37 active cases one person has died. 

■ Coronavirus tracker: Live stats of cases and deaths

LIVE UPDATES

11:15 A.M. Death toll rises by five to 839

Five more people have died of the coronavirus since Sunday, raising the country's death toll to 839. The number of cases has risen by 61, bringing the total number of cases to date to 103,274. The number of patients in serious condition has risen to 411, with the number of people on ventilators standing at 116. (Haaretz)

SUNDAY

11:41 P.M. Joint List MK enters quarantine

Joint List MK Walid Taha entered quarantine on Sunday night after coming in contact with a confirmed coronavirus case, the Knesset spokesperson said.  

Taha is expected to leave quarantine on September 3. (Jonathan Lis)

11:18 P.M. Shaked enters quarantine after confirmed contact with virus case 

MK Ayelet Shaked will enter quarantine after meeting with Aliyah and Integration Minister Pinina Tamano-Shata on Wednesday.

Tamano-Shata tested positive for the coronavirus on Sunday, the Knesset spokesperson said.

After checking with the Health Ministry, Shaked will stay in quarantine according to government issued guidelines. (Jonathan Lis)

11 P.M. Israel diagnoses 730 new cases on Sunday 

Israel diagnosed 730 more coronavirus cases on Sunday, raising the overall number of patients in the country since the beginning of the pandemic to 102,663, of which 22,315 are active cases. 

Of all active cases, 398 are currently in serious condition and 115 are on ventilators. The total death toll rose by nine since the last update on Sunday morning to reach 834. (Haaretz)

10:30 P.M. Litzman calls for Coronavirus Czar's resignation over letter to Ukraine's president

Construction and Housing Minister Yaakov Litzman said on Sunday that Coronavirus Czar, Prof. Ronni Gamzu exceeded his authority, and must resign after Gamzu sent a letter to the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday asking him to halt the flights for pilgrims to the tomb of Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav for the High Holidays. “I have never seen a bureaucrat send a letter to a president," Litzman said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will discuss the issue on Sunday night. (Noa Shpigel)

9:40 P.M. Israeli minister tests positive for coronavirus

Aliyah and Integration Minister Pinina Tamano-Shata tested positive for the coronavirus on Sunday, the Knesset spokesperson said. Tamano-Shata was last in the Knesset on Wednesday, the spokesperson said.

The Health Ministry is carrying out an epidimeological investigation. It has yet to be decided if additional lawmakers will be required to enter quarantine. (Jonathan Lis)

8:00 P.M. Death toll rises by nine, cases by 447 

Israel diagnosed 447 more coronavirus cases on Sunday, raising the overall number of patients in the country since the beginning of the pandemic to 102,380, of which 22,045 are active cases. 

Of all active cases, 398 are currently in serious condition and 115 are on ventilators. The total death toll rose by nine since the last update on Sunday morning to reach 834.

Israel conducted 10,963 COVID-19 tests on Saturday, and 6,237 on Sunday thus far. (Haaretz)

11:40 A.M. Death toll rises by six to 825

Six more people have died of the coronavirus since Saturday, raising the death toll to 825, according to updated Health Ministry figures. There have also been 217 more cases diagnosed since Saturday, bringing the number of active cases to 22,022. There are 408 patients in serious condition, with 112 people on ventilators. There were 10,795 tests conducted on Saturday. (Haaretz)

SATURDAY

11:00 P.M 77 more cases of the coronavirus detected

77 More cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed in Israel, bringing the total number of cases to 101,933, according to data released by the Health Ministry. 398 of those are in serious condition, and 119 of those on ventilators. Meanwhile, 819 people have died.  (Haaretz)

8:30 P.M. Israel's coronavirus cases rise by 1,140

Updated figures from the Health Ministry show that the number of coronavirus cases rose by 1,140 on Saturday to reach a total number of 101,856, of which, 22,393 are active cases. The death toll rose to 819.

Currently there are 389 patients in serious condition, including 119 on ventilators. (Haaretz)

FRIDAY

1:00 A.M. Cases rise by 1,630 on Thursday

Updated figures from the Health Ministry show that the number of coronavirus cases rose by 1,630 on Thursday to reach a total number of 99,599, including 24,225 active cases. The death toll rose by 14 on Thursday to reach 795. There are 389 patients in serious condition, including 114 on ventilators. (Haaretz)

THURSDAY

8:10 P.M. Coronavirus cabinet decides against lockdown for now

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the coronavirus cabinet have decided not to impose a lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus for now, a matter which the government had been discussing. Coronavirus czar Ronni Gamzu convinced the prime minister that for the time being it is possible to continue the current policy of continuing to develop infrastructure to stop the pandemic. 

Gazmo also recommended to cabinet members that from September 1, with the start of the new school year, the implementation of a so-called "traffic light" system in which cities will be ranked according to the level of coronavirus risk (green, orange, or red). According to the plan, various levels of restrictions would be applied in a city according to its risk level.

Accordingly, on September 10, after the start of the school year and the beginning of the enforcement of the traffic light program, and eight days before Rosh Hashanah, the government plans to re-examine the situation and decided whether to continue with the existing measures or to take additional steps, which will be determined in real time depending on the situation. (Ido Efrati)

7:45 P.M. 651 Israelis diagnosed with virus, 6 new deaths

651 more Israelis have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, according to data released by the Health Ministry. 389 of these are in serious condition, while 114 of these are on ventilators. Meanwhile, 6 more people have died of the virus, with a total of 795 deaths in Israel. The total number of cases in Israel is 99,201, with 23,870 active cases. (Haaretz)

7:20 P.M. Coronavirus cabinet hasn't reached decision of fall lockdown

The coronavirus cabinet met Thursday evening to discuss the coronavirus czar Ronni Ganzu's idea of a fall lockdown during the High Holy Days period to curb the spread of the virus. The cabinet failed to come to a decision on the matter. (Noa Landau)

>> Click here to read the full report

11:50 A.M. Cases count in Israel nears 100,000 

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Israel increased to 98,550, new Health Ministry data shows. More than 580 people tested positive since last night. There are currently 23,913 active cases, of which 403 are in serious condition and 110 are on ventilators.

The death toll stands at 789 – 12 have died of the coronavirus in the past 24 hours, and 72 in all have been registered after a counting error. More than 27,000 tests were conducted on Wednesday. 

WEDNESDAY

9:50 P.M. UAE's G42 Healthcare and Israel's NanoScent sign MOU for screening test

Abu Dhabi's G42 Healthcare has signed a preliminary agreement with Israel's NanoScent to develop, distribute, and manufacture a test that detects COVID-19 from exhaled air, UAE state news agency WAM reported on Wednesday. The test, called Scent Check, will provide results in 30 to 60 seconds, WAM said, adding G42 will undergo thousands of tests for the device in coming weeks. (Reuters)

9:20 P.M. Death toll rises to 781

Twenty more people have died of the coronavirus since Tuesday, which, along with previously uncounted 53 deaths, brings the death toll to 781. The number of total cases has risen to 97,783, an increase of 1,374 since Tuesday. The number of active cases stands at 23,918. There are 398 people in serious condition, with 118 people on ventilators. (Haaretz)

1:30 P.M. Citing error, Health Ministry says 53 deaths were not reported among elderly in July and August

Israel's Health Ministry said that due to an error it had underreported the number of deaths from the coronavirus among Israel's elderly. The Health Ministry said that 53 elderly people had died and not been reported.

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said that he saw this as a very grave incident. Edelstein called for a probe into the circumstances of the error, saying that he expects results of the investigation within a week.

12:15 P.M. Total cases rise to 96,996

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Israel has risen to 96,996, the Health Ministry said. The death toll stands at 719, up 14 since Tuesday night, and 401 patients are in critical condition. The number of infected people currently on respirators stands at 118. (Haaretz)

11:20 A.M. Israeli hospital struck by coronavirus outbreak 

An Israeli hospital is suffering from a coronavirus outbreak in its geriatric ward, with almost all patients contracting with the coronavirus. Laniado Hospital in Netanya, in central Israel, said 24 out of 30 patients in the ward have tested positive to COVID-19. (Bar Peleg)

TUESDAY

8:19 P.M. Israel registers 1,342 new cases on Tuesday

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Israel has risen to 96,093, of which around 23,000 are still active, according to the Health Ministry.

The death toll stands at 705. The number of patients in serious condition is 404, and another 117 are ventilated.

On Monday, 26,038 tests were conducted.

5:40 P.M. Coronavirus czar vents frustration at ultra-Orthodox and Arab communities

Coronavirus czar Ronni Gamzu acknowledged on Tuesday that he was dissatisfied with his ability to deal with the pandemic among Israel's ultra-Orthodox and Arab communities, both of which have seen major outbreaks in various locations around the country. Ultimately, he added, the pandemic needs to be managed at a local level rather than from Jerusalem.

"I haven't managed to get control in a way that makes me comfortable over ultra-Orthodox society and Arab society. It's a great deal of work with them. Ultra-Orthodox society exhibits a great deal of lack of trust," he said, noting that he has refrained from imposing a lockdown in ultra-Orthodox coronavirus hot spots such as Modi'in Ilit, Elad, Betar Ilit and in areas of Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh.

He expressed particular concern about the beginning of the Hebrew month of Elul on Thursday, when the ultra-Orthodox school year begins, as do religious observances leading up to the high holidays. Situation assessments will also need to be made later on about the opening of schools on September 1 for most Israeli school children and observance of the fall Jewish holidays, he said.

Noting that enforcement efforts are in place and will be stepped up to prevent large gatherings, he said the pandemic needs to be managed at a local level. "You can issue general directives, but ultimately the coronavirus needs to be managed within the community, within local governments including small ones." (Haaretz)

3:35 P.M. Israel registers record number of serious COVID-19 cases 

The number of patients in serious condition in Israel stands at 410, a record number since the start of the outbreak. The number of cases in serious condition is half of the hospitalizations total, 827. (Ido Efrati)

11:22 A.M. Israel registers six more COVID-19 deaths

The coronavirus death toll in Israel has risen by six since last night to 698, new Health Ministry figures show. There have been 95,264 cases in Israel since the beginning of the pandemic, and 23,399 active cases.
There are currently 410 patients in serious condition, and 113 on respirators, an increase of two since the previous update. 

10:00 A.M. Ukraine blocks entry of foreigners to Uman ahead of Hasidic pilgrimage

The Ukrainian internal affairs minister, Arsen Avakov, has announced that the country is limiting entry to foreign nationals to the city of Uman due to the coronavirus pandemic. The statement comes ahead of the annual pilgrimage to the city undertaken by the Bratslav Hasidic sect, undertaken around the Rosh Hashana holiday.

"We came to the conclusion that the coronavirus infection rate in Ukraine and abroad does not allow for organizing or holding mass events, especially those attended by foreign nationals," Avakov said. He noted that 30,000 to 50,000 Hasidic Jews from around the world visit the country every year. A visit like this during the pandemic, he said, will endanger not just pilgrims, but Ukrainian citizens as well. He added that the Ukrainian and Russian Orthodox churches have limited their mass events because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Uman Mayor Oleksandr Tsebriy noted that he prepared to close the streets in the city in order to curb Hasidic Jews from entering. "The government predicted a second wave of the coronavirus in September. This is why we oppose the Hasidim's visit to the city this year."  

Bratslav Hasidic sources said that despite the Ukrainian minister's statement, they're continuing contacts with the Ukrainian government in order to allow the sect to visit the city. Ukraine will not block their entry, the sources said, but rather hold pilgrims to coronavirus guidelines, "and this is an issue that's agreed upon." The sources added that according to the draft agreement, the Hasidim will divide themselves into small groups that will stay in defined areas, with no contact with other groups. All pilgrims would have to take a coronavirus test, and the pilgrimage areas will be closed to locals.

The national leader of the Bratslav movement, Nahman Benshaya, told Haaretz that the Israeli government is trying to thwart this agreement. "It's a shame that the Israeli government is trying to ruin the draft agreement," he said. "Without an agreement, there will be a disorganized and unmanaged flocking [to Uman], something that can cause mass, uncontrollable infection," he added.

"Over the past weeks, the mayor of Uman has tried with all his might to prevent Bratslav Hasidim from entering the city, and has even used anti-Semitic motives," a source said, "but the Ukrainian president does not accept his position and is insisting on allowing the Rosh Hashana tradition in Uman to continue."   

Health Ministry sources told Haaretz that Israel must act in order to prevent thousands of Israelis from flocking to Uman, believing that it will increase the rate of infection in Israel. Coronavirus czar Ronni Gamzu recommended to ministers and coronavirus cabinet members not to allow flights to Uman this year. In a discussion this month, the Knesset coronavirus committee told the Health Ministry's foreign relations manager that the event cannot be held due to "a gathering of 30,000 people on a street and a half."

>> Read the full story

9:20 A.M. Israeli cases pass 95,000

Since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak in Israel, 95,129 people have been diagnosed with the virus, Health Ministry figures show. There are currently 23,272 active cases, of those 390 are in serious condition. There are 111 patients on ventilators.

MONDAY

8:25 P.M. Palestinians shunning army-run testing facility in virus-stricken East Jerusalem 

Just dozens of patients came to an East Jerusalem drive-in testing facility that opened Monday. Local sources say that the facility, which is run by the IDF's Home Front Command, is repelling the local Palestinian population due to its military elements. This includes Israeli flags, army trucks, and uniformed soldiers on the premises. In response, the army said it would make changes at the site "in order to be considerate of the feelings of the residents."

In the past week, the rate of coronavirus infection has risen in East Jerusalem. On Thursday, 43 percent of East Jerusalem coronavirus tests came back positive, over 11 times the national rate for the same day. Local health officials believe the high infection rate is due to lax discipline among the public with regard to gatherings and face masks. There have been many mass familial and public events in East Jerusalem recently, including weddings, parties marking the end of exams, Eid al-Adha celebrations and mass prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque. (Nir Hasson)

7:49 P.M. 1,597 more Israelis diagnosed with COVID-19 

According to Health Ministry figures, 94,277 people in Israel have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, an increase of 1,597 since yesterday. 

There are 23,324 active cases in Israel, of those, 399 are in serious condition, and 111 are on ventilators. Two more COVID-19 deaths have been registered since the previous update, bringing the death toll to 692. 

12:00 P.M. Number of patients in serious condition hits record high, another five people die overnight

There are currently 862 people in hospital, 398 of them in serious condition - the highest number since the outbreak began - and 113 of those on ventilators, new figures from the Health Ministry showed on Monday morning.

Five people died overnight, bringing the overall death toll to 690. On August 1, Israel confirmed 526 COVID-19 deaths. Since then the country has had an average of just under 10 new deaths a day.

The total number of cases in Israel stands at 93,691, with 23,939 currently active.

SUNDAY

11:14 P.M. Israel relaxes some restrictions on crowds

The ministerial committee for the coronavirus crisis approved new restrictions, allowing up to 20 people to gather in an indoor space regardless of its size, relaxing previous restrictions, after some backlash from restaurant owners who claim they were particularly hit by them.

The new regulations, to go into effect on Monday at 7 P.M., allow up to 30 people in an open space.

On Thursday, the cabinet decided that only up to 10 people can stay together in an indoor space of up to 80 square meters, and up to 20 people in a space that is bigger than that. (Noa Landau)

7:35 P.M. Death toll rises to 685

The number of total coronavirus cases in the country has risen to 92,680, of which 23,491 are active, while the death toll has risen to 685. There are 382 patients in serious condition, with 112 of those on ventilators. There were 9,273 tests taken on Saturday. (Haaretz)

5:45 P.M. Israeli Arab panel warns of rise in cases

A committee leading coronavirus response in Israel's Arab society reported a rise of about 1,600 new cases within a week, bringing the total number of cases among Israeli Arabs, not including East Jerusalem and mixed Jewish-Arab cities, to 9,908. According to the committee, 3,600 of them are considered active cases.

Officials say one of the main reasons for the rise in cases are large gatherings in weddings, in spite of restrictions in place limiting crowds. (Jack Khoury)

3:00 P.M. Israel drops quarantine for arrivals from 20 countries

Israel's Health Ministry announced Sunday that arrivals from 20 countries designated as "green countries" will not be required to quarantine. 

Said countries are Austria, Italy, Estonia, Bulgaria, The United Kingdom, Georgia, Germany, Denmark, Hong Kong, Hungary, Greece, Jordan, Latvia, Lithuania, New Zealand, Slovenia, Finland, Canada, Cyprus and Croatia.

The Health Ministry updates the list of "green countries" on its official website.

Four countries – Bulgaria, Croatia, and four parts of Greece (Athens, Thessaloniki, Corfu, and Crete), Montenegro – will now be accepting visitors from Israel. While Montenegro has announced that it will allow Israelis to visit, but there has been no announcement that quarantine will be waived for those returning from there.

Foreigners coming into Israel are still required to obtain a special permit from an Israeli consulate before their arrival, regardless of whether the new regulation require they self-isolate upon arrival. (Ido Efrati and Eitan Leshem)

>> Click here to read the full report

10:51 A.M. Coronavirus czar calls Arab infection rates 'a massive attack'

Professor Ronni Gamzu, who is handling Israel's coronavirus response, said in an interview that the "Arab community, in the past two weeks, after Eid al-Adha, nearly caused an onslaught of hundreds of patients, so I'm not pleased." 

The coronavirus czar told Ynet in an interview that the infection rates in the Arab community have risen following the holiday, "gatherings, parties, celebrations, complacency, indifference, the thought that the coronavirus can't hurt them, and the coronavirus really struck them like a mass attack." 

Gamzu called on Arab leaders to mobilize. "You have power, I know you," he said. "You'll do it a lot better than the central government, don't wait [for them]." He added that he wants "more responsibility, in the Haredi world as well as in the Arab community." 

The Chairman of the Joint List of mainly Arab parties, Ayman Odeh, said that "it is a shame that at a time when Arab doctors are at the front of the battle against the coronavirus, the coronavirus czar is coming out with statements that hurt an entire community. Instead of miserable statements like those, I invite him to work together to defeat the pandemic." 

>> Click here to read the full report

SATURDAY

8:50 P.M. Over 1,000 more virus cases diagnosed, 19 more deaths

1,118 Israelis have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, according to data released by the Health Ministry. 92,198 Israelis have been diagnosed in total. 387 of those are in serious condition, with 116 of those on ventilators. 674 people have died of the virus. (Haaretz)

6:57 P.M. 608 more Israelis diagnosed with coronavirus

608 Israelis have been diagnosed with the coronavirus since the last update this morning, and 91,080 Israelis have been diagnosed with the virus in total, according to data released by the Health Ministry. 375 of these are in serious condition, with 108 of these on ventilators. Meanwhile, 665 people have died of the virus (Haaretz).

1:07 P.M. Palestinians report 531 new cases

The Palestinian Health Ministry registered 530 new coronavirus cases in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and one new case in Gaza. In addition, one elderly woman died in the West Bank.

Health Minister Mai Alkaila said 40 percent of diagnosed cases are still active and the death rate stands at 0.6 percent. 

12:18 P.M. Israel further limits crowds at restaurants

The ministerial committee for the coronavirus crisis approved new restrictions, allowing up to 30 people to gather in an open space, up from the current 20, as of Sunday at 2 P.M., but limiting the number of people allowed in an indoor space, specifically affecting restaurants.

The new regulations state that up to 10 people can stay together in an indoor space of up to 80 square meters, and up to 20 people in a space that is bigger than that, down from the current 20 in any indoor space.

A group of restaurant owners criticized the new measures approved by the ministers, saying they disproportionately harm their business activity. (Noa Landau and Bar Peleg)

11:40 A.M. Confirmed cases in Israel top 90,000

Israel has so far confirmed 90,472 coronavirus cases, with 23,665 of them considered active. According to the Health Ministry, 377 patients are in serious condition and 110 of them on life support.

657 COVID-19 patients died so far and 66,151 have recovered. (Haaretz)

9:31 A.M. Health Ministry calls to avoid northern town over spike in cases

The Health Ministry called on Israelis to avoid the northern town of Yarka due to a spike in infection rate there. However, no official lockdown was imposed on the town.

According to the ministry’s data, cases in Yarka almost quadrupled over the past week and now has one of the highest rates of infection in the country. (Haaretz)

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