Israel’s active coronavirus cases leaped by 500% in a month
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Israel’s active coronavirus cases leaped by 500% in a month

Analysis shows renewed outbreak focused more in Arab community, less in Haredi areas; study finds compliance with distancing rules fell when restaurants were reopened

Magen David Adom medical workers perform coronavirus tests at a drive-through testing site in Jerusalem on May 30, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Magen David Adom medical workers perform coronavirus tests at a drive-through testing site in Jerusalem on May 30, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israel’s active coronavirus cases have swelled 500 percent in a single month, with infections confirmed in 262 cities and communities.

The number of cases, which stood at 2,055 on June 7, reached 12,306 on July 7, the Haaretz daily reported Tuesday in an analysis of figures released by authorities.

In at least 40 cities and communities, the number of confirmed new infections over the past month was more than 50.

The report found that the renewed outbreak hit the country’s Arab community harder than the first wave. The most extreme case was Kafr Qasim, where there was only a single case on June 7 and 113 cases a month later — a whopping 11,200% increase.

The number of infections in ultra-Orthodox areas was up as well, but the community’s adherence to the rules has rendered the outbreak there less significant than in the first wave.

While 55% of patients in the first outbreak were Haredi, that has been halved in the second wave to 27%.

Still, the number of active cases has grown by 410% in Bnei Brak over the last month, by 912% in Beitar Illit, and by 866% in Elad.

Additionally, the rise of 1,612% in the number of cases in Ashdod and of 906% in Tiberias is focused in both cities’ ultra-Orthodox populations, the report said.

Israelis at a cafe in Tel Aviv on June 16, 2020. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Meanwhile, a Channel 12 report on Tuesday cited research finding that Israelis started ditching social distancing and mandatory face mask-wearing rules when restaurants were opened nationwide on May 20.

Compliance with the guidelines only started to rise in response to a stern address in early June by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and more so when the fine for failing to wear a mask in public was hiked on June 22, the report said, citing a study by The Center for Advanced Hindsight, headed by renowned behavioral economics expert Prof. Dan Ariely.

The study found big differences between workplaces that stuck to the “purple badge” guidelines — where 71% wore masks — and those that didn’t, where only 30% wore masks.

There was a direct age correlation, with younger Israelis complying less with the rules and older people adhering to them more.

The last few weeks have seen the reversal of many of the gains made in the fight against the coronavirus in recent months. New daily virus cases, which had dropped to low double digits through most of May, have soared to over a thousand a day, and the number of active cases has reached an all-time high of more than 13,600.

The current increase in weekly infections in Israel is one of the highest in the world, according to a chart published Monday afternoon by the Health Ministry.

Police officers patrol in the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Mea Shearim, Jerusalem, July 6, 2020 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Health Ministry on Wednesday morning released new figures showing  the number of total confirmed cases in Israel since the start of the outbreak was at 32,714.

The number of serious cases was up from 86 to 107 — although a change in criteria in partly responsible for that — while the number of people on ventilators rose to 36, two more than on Tuesday.

Another 82 people were in moderate condition, with the rest suffering mild or no symptoms.

The Health Ministry also announced one new death, bringing the toll to 343, an increase of five since Tuesday morning.

Criticizing the authorities’ handling of the ongoing outbreak and describing a chaotic and ineffective approach to tackling the crisis, the director of public health in the Health Ministry announced her resignation on Tuesday. In a post on her Facebook page, Prof. Siegal Sadetzki warned that “Israel is heading to a dangerous place.”

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