Israeli Health Ministry Warns Lockdown Inescapable as Virus Cases Double

TEL AVIV — Health Ministry officials warned that another lockdown was imminent if virus cases continue to spin out of control, with one official saying the High Holy Days would be spent with immediate family members only.

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Some 1,668 new infections were recorded in a 24-hour period, breaking a new record, with new cases doubling in 12 days. The total cases has passed the 40,000 mark and the number of serious cases had an increase of 32 in one day, totaling 183.  Hebrew University experts said 100 people are expected to die from COVID-19 before the end of the month. Already 368 Israelis have died from the disease.

Channel 13 quoted an unnamed senior Health Ministry official as saying Israel was “a step away from a full lockdown.”

According to Health Ministry statistics, the most common place to contract the virus is at home, with approximately 65.8 percent of new infections occurring in private residences. This is followed by educational institutions (10.3 percent), medical institutions (5.8 percent), events (3.95 percent), synagogues (2.2 percent), shopping malls or stores (2 percent), or at places of recreation (1.8 percent).

A further 8.2 percent of infections were contracted in unidentified locations.

Another ministry official told the Israel Hayom daily that spending the High Holy Days, which kicks off with Rosh Hashana on September 18, with nuclear families at this point seemed inevitable based on current trends. During the peak of the first wave of the virus in April, Israelis were ordered to spend the Passover seder, Easter and Ramadan with their immediate families.

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“The prevailing assessment right now is that there will be no alternative other than to issue orders to celebrate Rosh Hashanahh with the nuclear family alone,” one was quoted as saying.

Ministry officials added that no final decision had been made and that the situation would continue to be monitored over the next month or so.

Meanwhile, ultra-Orthodox residents of hard-hit areas in Jerusalem came out in protest against a government-imposed lockdown for the third day running.

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