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Israeli Health Ministry warns of 2nd wave as economy reopens

A concerning rise in the number of confirmed coronavirus carriers has been reported throughout Israel over the course of the past several days. The Israeli Health Ministry released an alarming statement in which it highlighted that “there has been a relatively unusual increase in (corona-related) infections in the past 48 hours.”

According to the latest update, 160 Israelis have been confirmed as new COVID-19 carriers 24 May, 64 of whom were identified within the past 48 hours alone.

The report further noted that there are currently 37 individuals are in critical condition, with all but one in need of ventilator support. Another 5 Israelis succumbed to the disease since Sunday, raising the total number of coronavirus deaths to 284. The recovery of 719 additional patients raises the total number of those who have survived the virus to 14,679.

It is important to stress that the latest uptick of new infections comes in spite of a relatively low testing rate of the general public, which possibly indicates there could be a greater outbreak than acknowledged in official data.

The alarming rise comes just three days after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a “joyous” announcement formally heralding the reopening of restaurants, large parks, swimming pools and other venues. He went on to caution that the return to normalcy will be contingent upon the virus morbidity rate. “We are also following the developments. In accordance with the development of the morbidity rates, we will act accordingly. I hope we will not need to change (the decision).”

The decision to further alleviate restrictions on the public sphere has been warmly welcomed by restaurant and café owners after nearly three months of closure. Mike Elias, who owns a restaurant in the Jaffa-Tel Aviv area, told Reuters that “basically, we have very strict regulations” regarding “social distancing, so minimum 1.5 meters between tables, all the staff wear masks all the time, we wash our hands with alcohol gel on a regular basis, the kitchen is completely sanitized, both the staff and the food, and basically we comply with all the regulations of the Ministry of Health.” Tel Aviv Café Owner Ronni Kedmi said that ” we are very excited” to see the public once again “sitting, drinking coffee – like before.”

The Israeli Health Ministry has unfortunately now been compelled to conduct an emergency assessment of the current situation following the spike of infections.

According to a senior Health Ministry official, who asked to remain anonymous, “there is a growing concern over a possible exponential rise of the corona contagion, which may demand an imminent consideration of enacting drastic measures.”

The official stopped short from elaborating on the referred to measures, stressing that “only after the situation is clearly assessed, the Health Ministry in coordination with the Prime Minister and Coronavirus Taskforce, will ultimately announce the expected decision on how to move forward.”