(October 6, 2020 / JNS) Israel’s ministerial “coronavirus Cabinet,” convened on Monday by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to weigh the enforcement and effects of the current nationwide lockdown, concluded that another week would be needed to analyze the data before making any decisions about easing or tightening restrictions.
National Security Council head Meir Ben-Shabbat, Coronavirus Project Coordinator Ronni Gamzu and the other professionals in attendance decided that the coronavirus Cabinet will discuss future measures next Monday, when a more comprehensive picture of COVID-19 morbidity and mortality rates will be available, according to the Prime Minister’s Office. This is in spite of an additional meeting of the coronavirus Cabinet scheduled for this Thursday.
The cabinet also agreed to extend the existing regulations until at least until Oct. 14, while continuing efforts to flatten the curve of infection, which has been soaring since last month, the statement said.
In his opening address to the meeting, Netanyahu said, “We are all obligated to uphold the rules regarding gatherings and the other rules related to the coronavirus routine. This includes ministers, [Knesset members] and all public servants.”
Referring specifically to the discovery of Environmental Protection Minister Gila Gamliel’s having tested positive for the virus after violating lockdown rules, he said: “I suggest that we [postpone judgment on her behavior] until the completion of the [epidemiological investigation] being carried out at the Health Ministry.”
Netanyahu then mentioned and sent condolences to the followers of the Pittsburgh Rebbe, whose funeral on Monday in Ashdod grew a massive crowd of mourners, the members of which did not adhere to social-distancing directives.
“I call on both the ultra-Orthodox and the secular publics, on all citizens of Israel, to honor the rules,” the prime minister implored. “I say this for the entire public that is at these gatherings–watch yourselves. … Every violation harms every one of you, your loved ones and the citizens of Israel.”
Regarding an ease in lockdown regulations, Netanyahu stated, “This is not an easy decision. We see what is happening at the moment, not just with us, but in the world. There is a second wave in Europe and it is strengthening. In Madrid, Paris and London, it seems that they will quickly enter lockdown. I very much hope that we are on a downward trend. We could easily miss it and we can also strengthen it, [but] only if we act rationally and responsibly.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, there were 274,423 confirmed coronavirus cases in Israel, 63,832 of which were active. There were 895 patients in critical condition, 224 of whom were on ventilators. The national death toll stood at 1,771.
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