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Netanyahu admits mistakes made, as record 8,315 new coronavirus cases confirmed

29 deaths since Friday afternoon; as pandemic continues to surge with new single-day high, premier acknowledges government rushed to reopen after first lockdown

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announces a new coronavirus lockdown, on September 13, 2020. (Yoav Dudkevitch/ Pool/AFP)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announces a new coronavirus lockdown, on September 13, 2020. (Yoav Dudkevitch/ Pool/AFP)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu admitted Saturday that his government made mistakes in emerging from Israel’s first national lockdown earlier this year, as the Health Ministry reported 8,315 new coronavirus cases were diagnosed on Friday — a new single-day record.

Updated numbers also showed that there had been 29 deaths since Friday afternoon, 16 of which occurred so far on Saturday, bringing the death toll up to 1,441.

“Did we make mistakes in the past? Of course,” Netanyahu said in a Hebrew video released by his office. “The opening of event halls was too fast. Maybe the opening of the whole school system,” he said.

He also pointed a finger at experts whom he says counseled for opening the economy; the Knesset for overturning some government decisions; and the media for what he said was a contribution to public apathy by portraying the response to the pandemic as overblown.

Netanyahu said Israel had “no choice,” but to go back under lockdown, and urged people to stay away from synagogues over Yom Kippur.

As of Saturday evening, Israel had a total of 227,100 confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic, with 68,122 active cases.

Medical staff wearing protective gear take a swab from a woman to test for the coronavirus, at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem on September 14, 2020. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

The number of COVID-19 patients in serious condition stood at 728, with 200 of them being on ventilators. Meanwhile, 261 patients were in moderate condition, and the rest had mild symptoms or none.

Sixteen people died of COVID-19 on Saturday as of 10 p.m., bringing the nation’s death toll to 1,441.

The ministry said 62,035 tests were conducted on Friday. The share of positive tests continued to rise, with a 12.5% positive rate on Thursday, 13.8% on Friday, and 17% on Saturday so far.

A sweeping new lockdown took force at 2 p.m. on Friday, though lawmakers were unable to reach an agreement over planned restrictions on protests and public prayers.

Under the new rules, nearly all businesses will be closed, with the exception of specific companies and factories designated as “essential” by the Defense Ministry’s National Emergency Authority, as well as grocery stores and food shops. Restaurants are permitted to operate on a home-delivery basis only.

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