Saturday, October 31, 2020

Israel becomes first country to lock down again

Once held up as a model of how to deal effectively with the virus, Israel is now struggling with infection and death rates.

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Infection and death rates in Israel have been skyrocketing and a series of Jewish holidays throughout September and October raised concerns that the infection rate could rise further.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has just announced the decision in a news conference, reported by Sky News.

The lockdown will last three weeks. During that time, all restaurants, shops and recreational facilities will remain closed.

Schools will also be shut, and the public will not be allowed more than 500m from their homes.

The lockdown will come into effect on Friday – coinciding with a major Jewish holiday, Rosh Hashana.

“I know these steps are a heavy price for us all,” Netanyahu said. “These are not the holidays we are used to. We certainly won’t be able to celebrate with our extended families.”

Responding to critical questions, he defended his leadership through the crisis saying: “If we keep the rules, we will defeat the virus. I see a vaccine on the way, and I see the fast testing that is on the way.”

Once held up as a model of how to deal effectively with the virus, Israel, a small country of under nine million people, currently has one of the worst coronavirus infection rates in the world per capita, with 37,482 active cases. At least 1,120 people have died.

According to the Kan public broadcaster, the finance ministry is projecting a loss to the economy per week of 6.5 billion shekels (RM7.5 billion) as a consequence of the new nationwide lockdown.

In the West Bank, which is administered in part by the Palestinian Authority, there are 9,845 active cases. No lockdown decisions have yet been made.

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