In a conference call Tuesday night with the heads of the country’s security branches, Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan instructed the police and the rest of Israel’s domestic security apparatus to make preparations to implement a full closure, which the minister said was “inevitable.” Erdan asked to be presented with detailed plans to implement a lockdown order.

Under such a lockdown, only employees whose work is deemed vital would be allowed out of their homes. Everyone else would be permitted to leave their home for only two reasons: to purchase groceries and/or medicine, or to receive medical treatment. If a closure is declared, the Israel Police would be responsible for enforcing it, while the Israel Defense Forces would supply staple goods to those in need who cannot provide for themselves.

“It would be very difficult to decide on a full closure, but given the unfolding situation, it’s inevitable. It’s best to employ harsh measures for a short time in order to defeat coronavirus as quickly as possible and avoid deaths,” said Erdan.

Meanwhile, professor Siegal Sadetzki, the head of public-health services in the Israeli Health Ministry, admitted on Wednesday that there was a shortage of COVID-19 testing kits in the country.

“The kits are definitely a problem. We are working every angle to procure the kits. Since yesterday [Tuesday], I’ve been more optimistic that we’ll be able to get the number of kits we need, but until I see them, I won’t be able to relax,” said Sadetzki.

Speaking at a Health Ministry briefing, Sadetzki announced that the number of new confirmed coronavirus cases had risen by 102 since Tuesday, compared to a jump of 65 from Monday to Tuesday. However, Sadetzki emphasized that the increase in positive cases was a result of expanded testing.

“Two days ago, we were conducting 1,000 tests per day, and yesterday [Tuesday], we did 2,150,” she explained.

Sadetzki noted that the number of testing labs in Israel had increased to 17 as of Tuesday, and that another three had been opened on Wednesday.

Many of the Israeli COVID-19 patients contracted the virus abroad and came back to Israel as carriers, she said, with another sector comprising people who came into close contact with a confirmed carrier, “Contact that, in most cases, we’ve managed to identify through epidemiological research.”

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

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