Israel Records 257 New Coronavirus Cases in Two Days

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People walk in Jerusalem, June 2020.
People walk in Jerusalem, June 2020.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

Six nursing home residents and three staff members at an Or Yehuda nursing home have been diagnosed with the coronavirus.

All staff and residents at Neot Avi Ahuzat Eyal were tested after one employee at the facility was found to have the virus.

The employee tested positive only after being tested twice.

All five employees and 29 residents from that department have been put into quarantine. Some of the sick residents have been moved to other geriatric facilities.

Israel now has 17,752 confirmed coronavirus cases, according to figures released by the Health Ministry on Saturday morning, including 257 cases diagnosed since Thursday evening. Of them, some 2,407 people are currently ill. To date, 295 people have died of coronavirus in Israel, including three deaths on Saturday.

Along with the renewed spike in cases, Israel has also significantly ramped up testing. On Friday some 16,160 tests were conducted, an all-time high for the country, and another 7,648 tests were conducted Saturday. Some 9,258 tests were conducted Thursday, and 12,929 on Wednesday.

The Health Ministry announced that Israel’s health maintenance organizations will start conducting serological testing this week. Initially some 70,000 people will be tested; over the longer term, tens of thousands more will undergo the blood tests that detect antibodies to the virus. The tests are intended to give decision-makers a better picture of the infection rate and to identify outbreaks.

Magen David Adom began serological testing in Bnei Brak on Wednesday. Bnei Brak had been the site of a large number of confirmed cases.

On Friday, another five schools and preschools were closed after someone there tested positive for the coronavirus. Some 106 educational institutions have been shuttered by virus cases to date, since the country’s education system reopened. So far, 330 children and teachers have tested positive; another 16,000 are in isolation due to COVID-19 cases at their school.

The latest schools to close include Aharon Habilui’im — Ha’amit middle school in Rishon Letzion, the Beit Hannah high school in Netanya, and three preschools in Jerusalem’s Beit Hakerem neighborhood.

On Saturday, a fourth-grader who attends Ehud Manor elementary school in Or Yehuda was found to be sick, after three of his family members fell ill. That school will be shuttered on Sunday.

Tel Aviv fines businesses

Last week, the Tel Aviv municipality handed out 646 fines to businesses, totaling hundreds of thousands of shekels, for violating coronavirus regulations. Business owners complain that the coronavirus guidelines are unclear and that it is not obvious how to implement them on the ground.

Ron Dahan, the owner of the Atlas Bar in Tel Aviv’s Shapira neighborhood, said city inspectors had fined him twice — once because he didn’t have a sign instructing patrons to wear masks, and then because he hadn’t filed a declaration with Tel Aviv’s municipal website stating that he was abiding by virus-prevention standards. Dahan said he had filed such a declaration with the Economy Ministry.

Dahan complained to Haaretz that different authorities are requiring business owners to abide by slightly different standards, which makes it difficult to follow the law.

Nadav Ne’eman, one of the owners of the Streets coffee shop chain, said that one of his outlets had received a 1,000-shekel fine because patrons on site were not wearing masks. “The manager asked — how will they eat? We argued with [the inspector] and were fined,” he said.

Tel Aviv said some 549 fines were issued to businesses over someone inside without a mask on, or because the businesses lacked signs conditioning entry on wearing masks.

Four businesses were handed 5,000-shekel fines for violating orders to stay closed.

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