Faced with alarming daily numbers of new confirmed cases in a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Israeli Health Ministry decided to ask the Cabinet to issue orders on Tuesday to impose strict closures on dozens of cities and travel restrictions on members of many communities that are defined as “red” due to widespread infection.

These cities include Ashdod, which has seen a sharp rise in cases—from 134 to 417 in a one-week period; Nahariya, where the number has jumped from nine to 41 in a week; Beit Shean, which has seen an increase from eight cases to 39 in one week; Kafr Qassem, which has seen a 14.75 percent increase in case, from four to 58 in one week; and Bat Yam, Ramle, Lod, Jaljulia and Dimona.

In addition, Israel Hayom has learned that the authorities are considering a reinstatement of neighborhood closures and/or travel restrictions for certain areas of Jerusalem and Bnei Brak, after dozens of new cases emerged among their residents.

Health Ministry Director General Professor Hezi Levi told Israel Hayom on Tuesday that the Health Ministry “is trying to avoid going back to a full shutdown and to make do with limited actions in areas with an unusual spread in coronavirus.”

Another senior Health Ministry official said, “If restrictions are not instated for ‘red’ communities … we might find ourselves in a very bad situation in which a decision will be made to restore a lockdown on the entire country, and possibly for a long time, with all the economic and social ramifications those steps would entail.”

The Health Ministry’s request for localized closures and travel restrictions are based, among other considerations, on a report by the Corona National Information and Knowledge Center, published on Tuesday, which included the recommendation: “If steps are not taken to slow the spread of infection … within two weeks the number of new cases per day could near 1,000 and the number of new [active] cases per day would rise to dozens, and the death rate will follow. At the same time, the number of hospitalized patients and patients in serious condition will increase, as will the number spending weeks in recovery.”

Meanwhile, Tuesday saw a record high in the number of new confirmed coronavirus cases in Israel, the Corona National Information and Knowledge Center reported on Wednesday.

The total number of new cases identified as of midnight between Tuesday and Wednesday stood at 773. A total of 18,824 corona tests were processed on Tuesday, the center reported.

A total of 4 percent of the tests were positive, on the high end for a 10-day period that saw daily positive percentages of between 2.5 and 4 percent.

June 2020 saw a total of 101 coronavirus patients listed in serious condition, compared to 38 in May.

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

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