The unemployment rate in Israel reached 18.6 percent on Tuesday with 91 percent of those now out of work being put on unpaid leave as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

The nation’s unemployment rate before the virus outbreak in the country was just 3.4 percent in February.

Israel’s National Employment Service registered  31,146 unemployed workers on Tuesday, with a total of 615,834 people registering as jobless so far in March, the business daily Globes reported.

On Sunday, 54,035 people registered as unemployed with another 38,016 doing so on Monday.

Rami Garor, director general of the Israel National Employment Service, said according to the report, “It appears that the number of new registrants fell further yesterday. By Passover, however, we believe that the number of new job seekers resulting from the coronavirus will reach 1 million, given that leading companies in Israel have announced that they are closing their branches and centers.”

Meanwhile, the Health Ministry’s deputy director-general Itamar Grotto, was quoted by Ynet as calling for a full seven-day lockdown and have the military ration out food.

He claimed that it was the only way to stop the spread of the virus and to allow people to return to their lives.

“I understand this sounds like an extreme suggestion, but the ministry’s position is clear. It will, however, require the proper preparation before it can be put into effect,” said Grotto, according to the report. “Our goal is that by the end of Passover we will allow certain groups to return to their daily lives based on data gathered and how vital these groups are to the economy.”

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