Virus infections in Israel continue to climb with 268 cases in past day

Virus infections in Israel continue to climb with 268 cases in past day

One fatality takes national death toll to 305; National Security Council says 12,766 tests administered Friday, a steep drop from a day earlier

People shop at the market in Ramle on June 19, 2020 (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)
People shop at the market in Ramle on June 19, 2020 (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

The National Security Council on Saturday morning reported that 39 additional infections brought the number of people diagnosed with the coronavirus over the past 24 hours up to 268.

Another person died of complications from the virus overnight, putting the death toll at 305. There were no details given on the fatality.

The latest numbers took the total number of cases since the start of the pandemic to 20,533, of which 4,598 are active cases. There were 39 people who were seriously ill, 29 of them on ventilators.

The security body said 12,766 tests had been administered Friday, a steep drop from 16,369 tests on Thursday. Testing rates are often depressed on Fridays and Saturdays.

Israelis enjoy the beaches of the Sea of Galilee, June 19, 2020 (David Cohen/Flash90)

On Friday, the Health Ministry reported there were 349 cases found over the previous 24 hours, the first time over 300 cases were diagnosed in a single day since late April.

Despite the increase, the cabinet on Friday gave the go-ahead to hold cultural events of up to 250 people with certain limitations. The green light applied to cinemas and theater, and took immediate effect.

According to the decision taken Friday, events can go ahead as long as venues are at no more than 75% capacity, dancing is prohibited and standard coronavirus precautions are observed.

Audiences at events will have to be seated and the sale of tickets must be bought ahead of time.

In certain situations, with prior approval, events of up to 500 people will also be authorized, the cabinet decided.

Women walk on Jaffa Street in downtown Jerusalem on June 18, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israel has seen a recent rise in coronavirus cases as it rolled back the lockdown measures it had begun in mid-March, which curbed the initial outbreak but also brought the economy to an almost total standstill. The government has repeatedly warned the public to continue to adhere to social distancing and hygiene orders amid concerns that a slacking of attitudes is allowing the spread of the virus to pick up pace anew.

Leaders have indicated they are averse to a new national lockdown but that they will seek local closures on any hotspots that emerge.

On Thursday government ministers voted to place parts of two southern Bedouin towns under partial lockdown. The week-long closures of two neighborhoods in Rahat and one in Arara (Negev) appeared to be the first such orders given since Israel began to gradually pull back restrictions in early May.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said there won’t be any further easing of coronavirus restrictions until the recent spike in infections is flattened, and warned that the government will resort to reapplying lockdowns to achieve that goal.

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