Coronavirus in Israel: Number of Recoveries Surpasses Active Cases

Israel tests more for coronavirus as new infections decline ■ Limit on outdoor sports lifted

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A man wears a face mask with an Israeli flag pattern, April 27, 2020.A man wears a face mask with an Israeli flag pattern, April 27, 2020.
A man wears a face mask with an Israeli flag pattern, April 27, 2020.Credit: Ofer Vaknin
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Haaretz

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As the world continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, Israel and the Palestinian territories are working to curb the spread of COVID-19 among their populations.

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■ 15,870 people in Israel have so far tested positive for the coronavirus; 219 people have died. In the West Bank, 480 cases have been diagnosed so far. Two have died. In Gaza, 17 cases have been diagnosed.

■ The Israeli government approved a series of steps to ease the lockdown restrictions, including allowing group prayer, partial reopening of the economy and stores, and fines for not wearing masks in public. Some coronavirus wards started closing as cases decline.

■ Coronavirus tracker: Live statistics of cases and deaths in Israel and worldwide ■ Do's and don'ts: Israel's Ministry explains coronavirus restrictions

LIVE UPDATES

9:24 A.M. Israel confirms 15,870 coronavirus cases, as number of fatalities rises to 219

The Health Ministry said that the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Israel has risen to 15,870, of whom 117 are in serious condition. The virus has so far claimed the lives of 219 Israelis, while 8,412 have recovered. (Haaretz)

7:10 A.M. Israel lifts 500-meter restriction on outdoor sports

Israelis will be allowed to engage in physical activity with no distance limit from their home starting Thursday, as part of the steps the government is taking to ease coronavirus restrictions.  

Until now, physical activity was only permitted within 500-meter from one’s home. (Haaretz)

4:00 A.M. Yemen reports first coronavirus deaths

Yemen has reported its first two deaths from the novel coronavirus, its health minister told Yemen TV.

Earlier, Yemeni authorities reported five coronavirus infections in Aden, after the United Nations said it feared the disease could be spreading undetected in a country where millions face famine and lack medical care. Previously Yemen had detected only a single case.

WEDNESDAY

A woman mourns at a military cemetery in Jerusalem ahead of Israel’s Memorial Day for fallen IDF soldiers to be marked in the shadow of the coronavirus, April 27, 2020.
A woman mourns at a military cemetery in Jerusalem ahead of Israel’s Memorial Day for fallen IDF soldiers to be marked in the shadow of the coronavirus, April 27, 2020. Credit: Emil Salman

10:00 P.M. Israelis visiting malls, markets will have to download mandatory tracking app

Shopping malls and markets across Israel, shut due to the coronavirus outbreak, will only be allowed to reopen after the development of a tracking system that would monitor all visitors, Health Ministry Director General Moshe Bar Siman Tov said at a Monday meeting.

All customers will be required to install a tracking app on their phone to enter shopping malls and markets, once these reopen. The app, which according to Bar Siman Tov is already in stages of development, will be part of a control system that would allow authorities to keep a tab on the number of visitors at any given moment.

The app would let authorities track the locations visited by confirmed and suspected coronavirus patients, allowing rapidly conduct contact tracing. It remains unclear whether shopping mall managers would have any access to the data collected by the app and whether the applications will continue to monitor people after they leave the mall. Moreover, app development responsibilities will be placed on mall managers, but it is uncertain who will oversee them. (Ido Efrati)

9:49 P.M. Israel marks 487 recoveries, 106 new cases in a day

According to the Health Ministry, 115 of Israel's 15,834 cases are in severe condition, with 90 of them on ventilators. So far, 215 have died and 8,233 have recovered.

9:00 P.M. Kindergartens, grades 1 through 3 to resume Sunday amid protests from teachers and administration

Kingergartens, along with school grades 1 through 3, will reopen on Sunday, in small groups and to a limited extent. The opening of further educational institutions will be dependent on discussions which will take place National Security Council meeting this Friday.

School administrators today protested the decision to reopen schools on such short notice, without giving principals the opportunity to learn and respond to the regulations for the return, which were released just hast Tuesday. "We call on the Education Ministry to stop, and prepare properly … and collaboration with school principals" heads of the "Leaders" organization wrote, "in setting a deadline, and only after that, build a plan of action based on a realistic schedule."  

Elementary school teachers, who will resume teaching this week, also expressed concern that while grades 1 through 3 will continue five days a week, kindergarten classes would take place in small groups, so that each child would only be present at the kindergarten three days a week, posing a problem for teachers with small children.

Daycare centers and private kindergartens are currently threatening not to open next week on the grounds that they have incurred debts in recent weeks and that the limited format of the return to study will not be financially viable. "What do they expect teachers to do," a teacher wondered, "to go to school and leave the toddlers home alone?" (Shira Kadari-Ovadia)

7:21 P.M. Health Ministry says over 20,000 tests performed in last 48 hours

According to the Health Ministry, 10,881 tests were done on Tuesday and 10,476 on Monday.

6:46 P.M. Arab Israeli parents committee opposes return to school amid virus fear

Heads of parents' committees in Arab society oppose the gradual return to school early next week because of concern over the spread of the coronavirus in Arab communities. The committee, along with local authorities, issued an offical statement that they did not intend to return the children to school and will instead wait until the end of Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr in the last week of May.

Medical staff hug in a coronavirus-dedicated ward at Ichilov hospital, Tel Aviv, April 21, 2020.
Medical staff hug in a coronavirus-dedicated ward at Ichilov hospital, Tel Aviv, April 21, 2020.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

"Our decision is a definitive and clear," said the chairman of the parents committee in Tira, Mu'ataz Iraqi, adding that every parent understands the financial pressure needed to return children to schools gradually, but the fear of the virus spreading has not yet passed in the Arab communities and therefore the danger is palpable in this regard. (Jack Khoury)

2:06 P.M. Attempted arson at tax office branch may be linked to self-employed hurt by coronavirus crisis

Police are investigating an attempted arson at the an income tax authority branch office in the central Israeli city of Holon. On the wall of the building, the anonymous assailant spray painted "The blood of the self-employed is not cheap," and police suspect that the arson attempt is part of protests carried out by self-employed workers and freelancers, who have been particularly hard-hit by the economic fallout of the coronavirus crisis. No one was injured in the attempt, but property was damaged. (Bar Peleg) 

1:46 P.M. City of Bnei Brak posts danger signs in buildings with confirmed coronavirus cases

Authorities in Bnei Brak, the ultra-Orthodox city that has accounted for 15 percent of the country's coronavirus infections, have begun putting signs inside buildings warning that a confirmed coronavirus patient is living or staying there. According to ultra-Orthodox newspapers, this is being done as an attempt to pressure infected people into entering government-run quarantine facilities.

There are 1,450 active cases in Bnei Brak, with hundreds in facilities and some 400 remaining in private homes. The government has created special facilities for ultra-Orthodox patients so that they can continue to observe religious law, but convincing Bnei Brak residents, many of whom have large immediate families they don't want to be separated from, to enter them. (Ronny Linder)

12:59 P.M. Iran death toll from coronavirus reaches 5,957

The death toll from the coronavirus outbreak in Iran rose by 80 in the past twenty four hours to 5,957, Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said in a statement on state TV on Wednesday.

The total number of diagnosed cases of new coronavirus in Iran, one of the countries hardest hit by the outbreak in the Middle East, has reached 93,657, he said. (Reuters)

10:35 A.M. Number of Israeli cases rises to 15,782, death toll at 212; recoveries surpass active cases

The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Israel has risen to 15,782, the Health Ministry says. In the 24 hours between Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, 193 new cases were diagnosed. Ninety-one patients are on a ventilator, with 352 patients hospitalized. The number of recoveries, 7,929, has surpassed the number of active cases, 7,641. (Haaretz)

3:26 A.M. Mainland China reports 22 new coronavirus cases vs 6 a day earlier

Mainland China reported 22 new coronavirus cases for April 28, up from 6 reported a day earlier, putting its total number of COVID-19 infections to date at 82,858. The total number of deaths in the mainland from COVID-19 remained unchanged at 4,633. (Reuters)

TUESDAY

9:00 P.M. Almost half of Israel's coronavirus cases have recovered 

A hairdresser in Jerusalem, as some small businesses reopen in Israel following the coronavirus outbreak, April 26, 2020.
A hairdresser in Jerusalem, as some small businesses reopen in Israel following the coronavirus outbreak, April 26, 2020.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

173 new coronavirus cases were diagnosed in Israel in the past 24 hours, the Health Ministry said, bringing the total in the country to 15,728. Since the beginning of the outbreak, 7,746 of them have recovered, while 7,772 are still thought to have COVID-19.

116 patients are in serious condition and 92 on life support. 210 patients died since the beginning of the crisis. (Haaretz)

6:00 P.M. Education ministry officially says some schools to reopen next week

Israel's Education Ministry officially said the country's pre-schools and primary schools are to reopen starting next week. Pre-schools, day care centers and elementary school grades 1 through 3 are set to reopen Sunday on a limited basis, while all studies from the fourth grade and above, including higher education, will continue remotely. Kids attending pre-schools will only be attending for three days a week, in groups of 15 to 17 children, while primary school students will be attending for five days a week instead of six, the ministry said. (Shira Kadari-Ovadia)

>> Read more on this topic  

5:00 P.M. Independence Day curfew goes into effect

Israel has imposed a closure on the country's 72nd Independence Day, starting Tuesday at 5 P.M. until Wednesday at 8 P.M. Israelis will be allowed to leave their homes only to purchase medical and other essential supplies.

People celebrating Independence Day must do so at home. Buying food during Independence Day eve on Tuesday evening and the holiday itself, until Wednesday at 8 P.M., will be forbidden. Food delivery services are allowed to operate during that time.

Israelis will be allowed to exercise and leave the house to “get some air” in the vicinity of their home, similar to the regulation announced on Passover seder.

Public transportation will also be suspended until the end of Independence Day on Wednesday evening at 8 P.M.

Those requiring essential services will also be allowed to leave their homes, but must stay within their communities, unless those essential services are not provided there.

On Tuesday at 7:45 P.M. the traditional Independence Day torch-lighting ceremony at Mount Herzl will take place under the slogan “Connections in Israeli Society.” There will be no audience. Most of the assembly, including the speeches and the artists’ performances, was filmed in advance and edited together for broadcast. (Josh Breiner and Haaretz)

4:39 P.M. Turkey aims to reopen economy starting late May

Turkey's government aims to begin reviving the economy in late May after a sharp slowdown due to measures to contain the coronavirus outbreak, while minimising any risk of a second wave of infections, a senior official said on Tuesday.

Separately, the head of a Turkish shopping malls association said there were plans for a gradual reopening from May 11 depending on demand from retailers and approval from a health authority advisory board.

Israeli police officers block main roads at the entrance to a Tel Aviv suburb to curb the spread on the coronavirus, Ramat Gan, April 14, 2020.
Israeli police officers block main roads at the entrance to a Tel Aviv suburb to curb the spread on the coronavirus, Ramat Gan, April 14, 2020. Credit: Meged Gozani

Turkey has shuttered malls, schools, restaurants and cafes to curb a surge in cases of the COVID-19 disease. Though some workplaces remain open, it has imposed partial stay-at-home orders, largely closed borders and slowed domestic movement.

Turkey is seventh globally in confirmed cases of the new coronavirus at more than 112,000. And while some 2,900 people have died, there has been a fall in newly reported deaths over the last eight days. (Reuters)

1:20 P.M. Iran's coronavirus death toll rises by 71 to 5,877

The death toll in Iran from the coronavirus pandemic rose by 71 in the past 24 hours to 5,877, health ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said on state TV on Tuesday.

The total number of diagnosed cases in Iran, one of the Middle Eastern countries hit hardest by the novel coronavirus, which causes respiratory disease COVID-19, has reached 92,584, he said. (Reuters)

11:17 A.M. Some bereaved families defy coronavirus restrictions to mark Memorial Day at cemetery

Several  bereaved families arrived at military cemeteries throughout Israel as the country marks Memorial Day, defying the ban on gatherings imposed by the government to stem the spread of the coronavirus.  

Roadblocks were set on main roads leading to the military cemeteries, but the police didn’t prevent people from entering the cemeteries, making do with asking the public to leave the area. (Josh Breiner and Bar Peleg)

>> Read the full report 

10:59 A.M. Health Ministry to gradually resume fertility treatments

People wearing masks in Jerusalem, April 2020.
People wearing masks in Jerusalem, April 2020.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

The Health Ministry said that fertility treatments can gradually resume in clinics and hospitals for women older than 39, as Israel succeeded in curbing the spread of the coronavirus. (Ido Efrati)       

10:54 A.M. Number of coronavirus tests per day will rise to 15,000, Health Ministry says

The Health Ministry said that the number of coronavirus tests per day would rise to 15,000, after hiring Chinese company BGI to conducts the tests at Israeli HMO facilities and setting up a separate laboratory in cooperation with BGI.

The ministry added it is preparing to carry out tests in areas considered vulnerable for the spread of the coronavirus. The move comes amid a significant decline in the number of people asking to be tested for the coronavirus.

On Monday, 9,546 people were tested for the virus, of whom 110 tested positive. On Sunday, 88 people were diagnosed with the virus out of the 8,393 tested and on Saturday 160 people tested positive out of the 9,031 tested.  (Ido Efrati)

9:39 A.M. Number of coronavirus patients in Israel reaches 15,589, with 208 fatalities

The Health Ministry said that 34 more people have been diagnosed with the coronavirus since Monday night, bringing the total confirmed cases to 15,589.

The ministry added that 117 people are in serious condition, of whom 94 are on ventilators. 208 Israelis have so far died from COVID-19, and 7,375 have recovered. (Ido Efrati)

9:18 A.M. Condition of 11-year-old coronavirus patient improves

The condition of an 11-year-old girl who was admitted to the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa in serious condition after contracting the coronavirus has slightly improved.

Israeli police with protective masks patrol an ultra-Orthodox protest in Jerusalem, April 19, 2020.
Israeli police with protective masks patrol an ultra-Orthodox protest in Jerusalem, April 19, 2020.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

Rambam said the girl no longer carries the virus, but is still on a ventilator after suffering complications from COVID-19. (Noa Spiegel)

7:52 A.M. Police set roadblocks to enforce coronavirus restrictions as Israel marks Memorial Day

The police have begun setting roadblocks on main roads leading to cemeteries throughout the country to enforce the coronavirus closure while Israel marks the Memorial Day for fallen IDF soldiers.

The police, however, said they won’t prevent bereaved families from entering the cemeteries.

Some of the cemeteries across the county have been locked to prevent mass gatherings.

In addition, the government-imposed closure on Israel's Independence Day will come into effect on Tuesday at 5 P.M. until Wednesday at 8 P.M. Israelis will be allowed to leave their homes only to purchase medical supplies and essential necessities. Those requiring essential services will also be allowed to leave their homes, but must stay within their communities, unless those essential services are not provided there.

Public transportation will also be suspended until the end of Independence Day.

People celebrating Independence Day must do so at home. Buying food during Independence Day eve and the holiday itself will be forbidden. Israelis will be allowed to exercise and leave the house to “get some air” in the vicinity of their home, similar to the regulation announced on Passover seder. (Josh Breiner)

MONDAY

9:44 P.M. Number of confirmed cases in Israel rises by 112 to 15,555 

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Israel has risen by 89  since Monday morning to 15,555, according to newly released Health Ministry data. Israel recorded a total of 112 new infections in 24 hours. The death toll has risen to 204. Ninety-six people are being ventilated. (Haaretz) 

5:00 P.M. Netanyahu: Children living with a high-risk relative won't return to school

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced that children considered to be part of a high-risk population, or who live with someone who is, will not be among those returning to school next week. According to Netanyahu, the gradual reopening of schools will depend on a number of factors: teaching small groups that remain unchanged; a fixed staff that are not members of high-risk populations; continuing distance learning for those who cannot come to school; and abiding by social-distancing and hygiene regulations.

The high risk population consists of people whose medical condition or age increases the chances that coronavirus symptoms will be severe.  This includes people over 70, or those aged 50-69 who have at least two risk factors, such as heart problems, diabetes, high blood pressure, regular smoking for a total of more than 10 years, obesity, and hospitalization during the past three years (excluding childbirth). People aged 30-49 with at least four risk factors are also considered high-risk. (Shira Kadari-Ovadia and Noa Landau)

4:52 P.M. Israel to gradually open hotels, guest houses

In a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss an outline for resuming activity in Israel's tourism industry, it was agreed that as of Sunday, guest houses and hotels with ground floor rooms would be allowed to reopen.

The decision depends on Israel maintaining its infection rate or lowering it. It was also agreed that in the coming days, the tourism and health ministries will agree upon a standards stamp that will be given to hotels which were allowed to reopen during the coronavirus pandemic. (Noa Landau)

3:58 P.M. Israel's top court rejects petition against ban on Memorial Day cemetery visits

The High Court has rejected a petition issued by the son of a fallen soldier against the ban on visiting solders' graves on Memorial Day, put in place as part of anti-coronavirus measures. (Haaretz)

3:18 P.M. Israeli education minister says kindergarten, grades one through three to resume activity

Education Minister Rafi Peretz says the cabinet has approved the resumption of school on Sunday for children in kindergarten and grades one through three, pending a situation assessment on Friday.

The government has yet to issue an official announcement. According to the plan proposed by the Education Ministry, kindergartens will ensure that group activities alternate between groups of children, while elementary schools divide classes into smaller groups, spread out in empty classrooms designated for older classes. (Shira Kadari-Ovadia)

1:54 P.M. Israeli ministers, health chief meeting to discuss reopening schools

PM Netanyahu, Education Minister Rafi Peretz, Director General of the Ministry of Health Moshe Bar Siman Tov, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon are discussing bringing the school system back to normal.

Three options are on the table: Waiting for longer; returning only the first three grades of primary school; or returning both kindergartens and grades 1-3. (Noa Landau)

12:12 P.M. Despite regulations being eased, Israel Police still enforcing social distancing restrictions

Five were arrested in the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Mea Shearim in Jerusalem this morning. Police noticed a building was being used for religious scholars to congregate; it went in and found about 60 people assembled.

"Follow the instructions - save lives!" a statement said, "calling on the public to heed the instructions of the Ministry of Health."  

Earlier, police went into the market in the city of Ramle, in central Israel, and ordered shopkeepers to close. Police had agreed to allow stores with three walls to open, and the force said they were only enforcing the rule, but video footage seems to show officers were urging shoppers to evacuate the area.

11:54 A.M. Elective procedures resume at Israeli hospitals

Israel's Health Ministry will allow elective procedures to proceed at hospitals and clinics nation-wide. The decision takes effect today.

9:01 A.M. Israel Health Ministry reports another 23 cases, up to 15,466, death toll up by one to 202

New figures released on Monday morning showed 413 in serious condition, including 96 on respirators. 

6,796 have recovered.

9:00 A.M. Israeli hospitals close some coronavirus wards as number of cases declines

Israeli hospitals are starting to close some of their coronavirus wards and return the staff to their usual wards, given the recent decline in the number of new cases.

The closure of some coronavirus wards isn’t an official Health Ministry policy, but rather the initiative of individual hospitals.

Elective procedures, which were put on hold after the coronavirus crisis began, are slated to resume after Wednesday’s Independence Day holiday. (Ido Efrati)

>> Read the full report

8:22 A.M. Small-scale ceremonies to take place starting Monday for Israel's fallen

Memorial Day events will open with a one-minute siren at 8 p.m. A small ceremony will be held at the Western Wall, with President Rivlin and IDF chief of staff Aviv Kochavi in attendance. 

The "Songs in their Memory" memorial event, when the name of fallen soldiers will be screened on the Knesset building, will be broadcast at 9:00 P.M.

A joint Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Ceremony starting at 8:30 P.M. is also expected to draw unprecedented numbers.

>> Read full report

8:15 A.M. Israeli PM to discuss school closures on Monday

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will hold a meeting to discuss the various options to gradually reopen Israeli schools. Senior Ministers, the Attorney General and the National Security Advisor will attend the meeting, following preliminary discussions on Sunday.  

8:14 A.M. 500-meter distance restriction for physical activity to be lifted from Thursday

Government ministers approved the decision to lift the 500-meter restriction on physical activity starting this Thursday. 

After the vote, Cabinet Secretary Tzahi Braverman announced the decision was frozen, and minutes later, the Prime Minister's Office said it would be implemented after Independence Day. Last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Health Ministry opposed lifting the restriction. (Noa Landau)

8:11 A.M. Israel announces 6 billion shekels plan to bring people back into work

PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon announced on Sunday night that, with the support of the Governor of the Bank of Israel, NIS 6 billion will be allocated for keeping and returning people into the workforce. 

"In the coming days, a request to expand the economic recovery program beyond the original NIS 80 billion will be submitted to the Knesset, which will include the plan to return employees to the employment cycle and other steps," a joint statement said. (Noa Landau)

12:17 A.M. Iran plans to reopen mosques in areas free of coronavirus, president says

Iran plans to reopen mosques in parts of the country that have been consistently free of the coronavirus outbreak as restrictions on Iranians gradually ease, President Hassan Rohani said.

Iran, one of the Middle Eastern countries hardest hit by the pandemic, will be divided up into white, yellow and red regions based on the number of infections and deaths, Rohani said, according to the presidency's website.

Activities in each region will be restricted accordingly, so an area that has been consistently free of infections or deaths will be labelled white and mosques could be reopened and Friday prayers resumed, Rohani said.

He said the label given to any region in the Islamic Republic could change and he did not specify when the color-coding program would come into force.

Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi said in an interview with state TV on Sunday that 116 counties in the country could be considered white at the moment and 134 yellow. (Reuters)

SUNDAY

9:13 P.M. Israel's top court rules no Shin Bet tracking without legislation 

The High Court of Justice ruled that Israel can't keep using the Shin Bet's tracking capabilities in its efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus, unless the government "starts the process of legislation" to set its terms by Thursday.

The ruling states that the legislation must be completed within "several weeks."

The secret service has been employed to track coronavirus patients and alert those who may have been in close contact with confirmed patients. (Netael Bandel)

>> Read more on this topic

8:50 P.M. Israel registers 201 coronavirus deaths

Israel confirmed 15,443 coronavirus cases, up 145 patients in the past 24 hours. The vast majority of cases remain in mild condition, but 133 are in serious condition with 99 of them on life support.

201 who had tested positive for COVID-19 died so far.

The Health Ministry also announced 296 new recoveries, bringing the total number of recovered patients in the country to 6,731.

8:34 P.M. Gaza begins to ease restrictions

The Palestinian Health Ministry in the Gaza Strip has reopened restaurants after a month and a half closure as part of curbing the spread of coronavirus. The chairman of the Restaurant Association, Salah Abu Hasira, announced Sunday evening that the opening will adhere to strict hygiene standards and enforce non-gathering. (Jack Khoury)

8:10 P.M. Israeli ministers agree to eliminate 500-meter limit for physical activity on Thursday

A measure limiting physical activity to take place no further than 500-meters away from the home will be abolished on Thursday, the Israeli government decided in a Sunday meeting. 

The decision followed initial confusion that discussion on the matter had been frozen, as was announced by the cabinet secretary. The removal of the limit will come after Israel’s 72 Independence Day, marked on Wednesday. (Noa Landau)

7:36 P.M. Turkey's coronavirus death toll rises to 2,805, new cases 2,357 - ministry

Turkey's confirmed cases of COVID-19 increased by 2,357 in the past 24 hours, and 99 more people have died, taking the death toll to 2,805, Health Ministry data showed on Sunday.

The total number of cases in the country stood at 110,130, the data showed, the highest total for any country outside Western Europe or the United States. (Reuters)

5:56 P.M. 11-year-old girl with coronavirus in critical condition after condition worsens

An 11-year-old girl is in serious condition at Rambam Hospital in Haifa. She was admitted last week and was transferred to the specialist coronavirus department on Friday due to a high fever, vomiting and difficulty eating. On Saturday evening, her condition worsened and on Sunday doctors decided to anesthetize and put her on a ventilator. (Noa Spiegel)

5:39 P.M. Arab Emergency Committee says 809 Arabs have coronavirus

According to the data, the number of cases identified in Deir al-Assad rose to 150, in Umm al-Fahm 74 cases, in Rahat 52 cases and in Taibeh the number of infected rose to 42. (Jack Khoury)

10:49 A.M. Senior health official regrets reopening of Ikea

Health Ministry director general Moshe Bar Siman Tov said it was a mistake to open Ikea stores in the first phase of easing lockdown. "It’s more of a mall than a homeware store," he admitted, following public criticism that shoppers crowded there last week. 

Owners of Ikea Israel Shulam Fisher and Matthew Bronfman have donated millions of shekels in recent years to the Ger Hasidic sect of outgoing Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, according to an investigation published Sunday in TheMarker. It was also revealed that the Ger sect's religious leader spends his vacations in a home in Safed that belongs to Fisher.

Litzman denied allegations that the reopening of Ikea was motivated by donations to his religious group. "There is no connection between Fisher and Litzman and attempts to connect between them during a state of emergency are cynical and ignorant," a statement read.   

9:47 A.M. Senior health official says Israel is hastily easing lockdown 

The government is easing the coronavirus restrictions too quickly, said head of the ministry's public health services Professor Sigal Sadetsky, who suggested the easing of the lockdown should be more gradual.

Sadetzky said Israel has overcome the first wave of infections with a small number of ill and dead because of the government's lockdown policy. She supported the reopening of schools for young pupils and said "responsibility is being passed on to citizens, who must practice social distancing and hygiene and wear masks."

9:42 A.M. Number of coronavirus cases in Israel rises to 15,398

Israel's Ministry of Health said the total number of coronavirus cases in Israel has increased to 15,398. More than forty percent of cases, 6,602, have already recovered. The number of fatalities remains 199. About 132 patients are currently in serious condition, of whom 100 are on respirators. 

9:37 A.M. New coronavirus regulations go into effect

Storefronts, barbershops and beauty salons will be permitted to open starting Sunday, after a series of new regulations approved by the government went into effect at midnight. 

People would also be able to pick up take-away from restaurants, as opposed to only having it delivered.

Also, police is expected to begin enforcing more stringently the wearing of masks in public by anyone aged seven and up. Fines will be given out without warning. Enforcement will also be done by local government inspectors, and they will be bolstered by Nature and Parks Authority inspectors.

SUNDAY

11:38 P.M. Surfing, swimming to be allowed on Israeli beaches

Israel's health and sports ministries said they would include surfing and swimming in the list of permitted solitary activities. The decision is set to be brought to a government vote on Sunday.

The proposed regulations stipulate no "unnecessary" time at the beach and a two-meter distance between surfers kept at all times. (Itamar Katzir)

>> Click here to read the full report

9:34 Israel's Health Ministry seeks less than 300 new cases a day to ease restrictions

Israel’s Health Ministry set criteria for further easing the coronavirus restrictions in place, considered more lenient than exit strategy models proposed earlier. The Health Ministry’s criteria calls for less than 300 new confirmed cases a day and less than 300 patients in serious condition at any given moment. Going over these figures could trigger a recommendation to reimpose some restrictions. (Ido Efrati)

9:27 P.M. Israel confirms 199 coronavirus deaths

Israel confirmed 15,298 coronavirus cases, with fewer patients in serious condition. According to Health Ministry figures, 127 patients are in serious condition and 99 of them on life support. 199 people with COVID-19 died in Israel since the outbreak began. 6,435 people who tested positive for the coronavirus have recovered.

8:33 P.M. Israel's health minister announces he plans to leave post

Israel's Health Minister Yaakov Litzman told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday that he plans to resign from his position, two days after announcing that he is weighing the option.

Litzman was heavily criticized for his handling of the coronavirus crisis. In its early stages he excluded the ultra-Orthodox community from the social distancing regulations, allowing public bath houses and synagogues to remain open, even promising that the messiah would come and put an end to the epidemic. (Aaron Rabinowitz)

>> Click here to read the full report

7:55 P.M. 2,000 protest in Tel Aviv against unity government, government response to coronavirus crisis

Some 2,000 protesters  are demonstrating at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv against Benjamin Netanyahu and the establishment of the unity government. The protesters wave Israeli flags and black flags, while holding signs that read "corrupt home" and "bribery fraud." Protesters were required by police to draw chalk crosses to show that they are complying with social distancing measures, but due to ongoing rain, organizers move between people to ensure, along with policethat distances are maintained.

The protest is one of several so-called "Black Flag" protests that have taken place in past weeks.Two hunderd people are also protesting in Kiryat Tivon. 

The Sunday protest had a turn out of thousands and has received worldwide coverage. The protesters are demonstrating against the establishment of the unity government between Prime Minister benjamin Neyanyahu and Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz, which they call the biggest and most corrupt government in the history of the State of Israel.

"We are determined to protect democracy. We the citizens have to lead," organizers said. (Bar Peleg and Noa Shpigel)

7:26 P.M. Turkey's coronavirus death toll rises by 106

Turkey recorded 2,861 coronavirus infections in the past 24 hours, and 106 more people died, taking the death toll to 2,706, Health Ministry data showed on Saturday.

The total number of cases stood at 107,773, the highest total in any country outside western Europe or the United States.

A total of 25,582 people have so far recovered from the new coronavirus, which causes the respiratory disease COVID-19. The number of tests carried out in the past 24 hours was 38,308. (Reuters)

5:40 P.M. Over 25,000 coronavirus tests performed since Thursday

The Health Ministry announced that since Thursday, over 25,000 coronavirus tests have been performed in Israel. On Friday, 11,799 tests were performed, while 13,861 tests were conducted on Thursday. (Haaretz)

5:30 P.M. U.K. Reports over 20,000 hospital deaths from virus

The death toll from the new coronavirus in hospitals across the United Kingdom has risen to 20,319, an increase of 813 in 24 hours, the latest data from the Health Ministry showed on Saturday. (Reuters)

2:50 P.M. Coronavirus crisis presents new opportunities for Gaza battered economy

For the first time in years, sewing factories in the Gaza Strip are back to working at full capacity — producing masks, gloves and protective gowns, some of which are bound for Israel.

Rizq al-Madhoun, owner of the Bahaa garment company, said he has produced more than 1 million masks in the past three weeks, “all for the Israeli market.”

Gaza may not have the advanced machinery seen in other places, but he said residents' sewing skills are unmatched. "Gaza workers are distinguished in handiwork and they are better than workers in China or Turkey," he said. (The Associated Press)

>> Read the full report

2:37 P.M. Health Ministry gearing up to restore elective procedures as Israel’s infection rate drops

The Health ministry said it is preparing to gradually restore elective medical procedures starting May 3. The decision comes amid Israel’s success in reducing the coronavirus infection rate. (Ido Efrati)

1:05 P.M. Iran's coronavirus death toll rises to 5,650

Iran's death toll from the new coronavirus has risen by 76 to reach a total of 5,650, Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said on state TV.

The total number of people diagnosed with the disease is 89,328, of whom 3,096 are in a critical condition, he added. (Reuters)

11:25 A.M. Israel’s coronavirus death toll rises to 198, as confirmed cases reach 15,148

The Health Ministry said that 198 Israelis have so far died of the coronavirus. The number of confirmed cases has risen to 15,148, of whom 130 are in serious condition and 102 on respirators. (Haaretz)

FRIDAY

8:47 P.M. Coronavirus cases in Israel 15,058, death toll at 194

The number of coronavirus cases has risen to 15,058, with the death toll rising to 194. Of those diagnosed, 137 are in serious condition, and 102 of those are on respirators. Meanwhile, 6003 people have recovered.

5:26 P.M. Government approves restricting coronavirus hot spots in Beit Shemesh, Netivot

Several neighborhoods in the two cities which were identified as hotbeds for the coronavirus will be locked down for five days starting from Sunday at 6:00 A.M. until Friday at 6:00 A.M.

During the lockdown, Home Front Command and the Defense Ministry will be responsible for providing residents with a daily supply of food and basic necessities, local services and any other required assistance.

Since the virus' outbreak in Israel, 399 patients have been diagnosed in Beit Shemesh and 83 in Netivot, with the infection rate in the former over the last three days being 22 percent, and 19 in Netivot. (Noa Landau)

4:09 P.M. Jerusalem market traders oppose decision to keep markets closed

Market workers from Mahane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem announced on Sunday they will protest against the government's decision not to open the markets. "How does the IKEA network open its branches and we don't"? they asked.

Chair of the Mahane Yehuda Market Traders Committee, Tali Friedman, wrote that traders are demanding that the government accept the outline agreed with Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Leon, according to which the market will open with one entrance and exit, as inspectors will check the temperature of those who enter and check that they are wearing a mask. (Nir Hasson)

2:55 P.M. Lebanon tightens security around Palestinian refugee camp over virus

Authorities closed all entrances to a Palestinian refugee camp in eastern Lebanon on Friday after four more people tested positive for the coronavirus, heightening concerns the virus could further spread among its overcrowded population.

The four people infected with the virus are relatives of a woman who tested positive earlier this week and are isolating inside their home, according to a statement from the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, who aded that they were so far not in need of hospitalization.

The Palestinian woman who was taken to a hospital in Beirut this week became the first refugee living in a camp in Lebanon to contract the virus, a finding that triggered a spate of testing in the camp. The five confirmed cases are residents of the Wavel camp in the city of Baalbek, known locally as the Jalil, or Galilee camp. (Associated Press)

1:30 P.M. Government passes measures to ease coronavirus restrictions

The government passed new measures Friday afternoon to ease the coronavirus lockdown. Starting Saturday night, small stores (not located in malls or major shopping centers), barbershops and beauty salons will be able to re-open.

The government also approved issuing a 200 shekel (about $50) fine to anyone who is not wearing a face mask, even without a warning. Masks are mandatory for anyone age 7 and up in a public space. The decision was made after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu participated in a conference call with the leaders of Austria, Australia, the Czech Republic, Greece, Denmark and New Zealand, in which they discussed the importance of the practice in curbing the coronavirus.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan requested further restrictions on protests, saying that police had no way to enforce Health Ministry guidelines during demonstrations. Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit opposed the move.

Ministers told Haaretz that there were no medical officials present at the government meeting, and no in-depth data was presented regarding the possible consequences of easing these restrictions. (Noa Landau)

1: 15 P.M. Tents set up in central Tev Aviv in protest against government's coronavirus and economic policies

Six tents were erected on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv, in protest to the government's policies regarding the spread of the coronavirus and the economic crisis. The tents were erected by three activists as part of the so-called "Black Flag" protest against the disintegration of democracy in Israel. The Tel Aviv municipality initially issued an eviction order for the tents, but later the protesters were granted a permit for 48 hours. 

Police officers who arrived at the scene gave one of the organizers a written warning for not wearing a mask, after being warned about it twice a few hours earlier. A city inspector presented the protesters with conditions to limit the protest, according to which it would be approved for two days. (Bar Peleg)

12:51 P.M. COVID-19 outbreak in Istanbul now under control, minister says

Comparing Istanbul to the Chinese city where the novel coronavirus first emerged, “Turkey’s Wuhan was Istanbul,” Turkish minister Fahrettin Koca told the pro-government Sabah newspaper in an interview published Friday. 

Koca claimed the spread of COVID-19 in Istanbul was brought under control through contact tracing executed by a team of experts, as well as early treatment. The country ranks seventh in the world in the number of confirmed infections, surpassing Iran and China, according to Johns Hopkins University. (Associated Press)

11:50 A.M. Palestinian who was arrested and imprisoned in Israel has coronavirus

The Israel Prison Service said a West Bank Palestinian who had been arrested on Wednesday has tested positive for the coronavirus. The 21-year-old was taken to hospital on Thursday night and entered isolation there. Officials said he was alone in his cell for the last two days, adding that whoever had been in contact with him at the time of the arrest will enter quarantine according to procedures. (Josh Breiner)

11:10 A.M. Israel police fine surfers, arrest one

Dozens of surfers were fined and told to leave beaches in Tel Aviv and Herzliya after they were caught violating coronavirus restrictions, the Israel Police said in a statement. Most of the surfers accepted the police's request to leave – the regulations forbid going to the beach for leisure activities or sports – but those who remained in the water were given fines. One 32-year-old surfer from Tel Aviv was arrested on suspicion of refusing to leave the beach, and escalating a confrontation with the officers. (Haaretz)

10:50 A.M. Israel approves far-reaching economic package 

The Israeli government has approved a new emergency package to support self-employed Israelis as well as small businesses who have been hard-hit by the coronavirus crisis. According to the plan, which is worth 8 billion shekels ($2.27 billion), businesses are to receive a government grant proportionate to the amount of their losses. The maximum is 400,000 shekels ($113,000) per business. Self-employed Israelis can apply for a state subsidy of up to 70 percent of their salary, up to a maximum of 10,500 shekels ($3,000).

The government also renewed a decision to support those older than 67 who have lost their jobs, with a salary of up to 4,000 shekels ($1,130) in May. (Noa Landau)

8:50 A.M. Number of coronavirus cases in Israel stands at 14,882, 193 dead

Israel's Ministry of Health said the total number of coronavirus cases in Israel has increased to 14,882, with nearly 80 more diagnoses since Thursday night. The number of fatalities has reached 193, up by one. About 139 patients are currently in serious condition, of whom 107 are on respirators, while 101 are in moderate condition. The majority are in light to mild condition. (Haaretz)

4:58 A.M. Saudi G20 presidency calls for additional coronavirus response donations

In a statement, the G20 secretariat said $1.9 billion had been donated by countries, philanthropic organizations and the private sector toward an $8 billion target set by the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board, but more funds were needed.

"Global challenges demand global solutions and this is our time to stand and support the race for a vaccine and other therapeutic measures to combat COVID-19," Saudi G20 Sherpa Fahad Almubarak said. (Reuters)

1:59 A.M. Israel announces partnership with online genealogy platform MyHeritage to carry out coronavirus testing

MyHeritage will set up a coronavirus testing laboratory in Israel, which will carry out 10,000 tests a day, a joint Defense Ministry and Health Ministry statement said. 

It will be independent and operated by the Israeli company, using equipment provided by the Chinese company BGI. 

12:47 A.M. Coronavirus hot spot of Bnei Brak reports 17 deaths from coronavirus

The number was reported by city authorities on Thursday night. The ultra-Orthodox Tel Aviv suburb was put under lockdown earlier this month in order to curb a potentially disastrous coronavirus outbreak in the community. (Bar Peleg)

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Watching the sunset on Tel Aviv's seaside promenade after coronavirus restrictions were eased, April 19, 2020.
Watching the sunset on Tel Aviv's seaside promenade after coronavirus restrictions were eased, April 19, 2020.Credit: Moti Milrod

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