Photo: Flash90

Israel’s COVID-19 rate slows on Passover Eve

Israel’s Ministry of Health is reporting a slight slow-down in the number of newly-diagnosed cases of the coronavirus.

9,404 Israelis are nevertheless currently combating the disease. 122 of the overall 147 patients diagnosed as in critical condition are on ventilators, reflecting an 8% increase since yesterday. 12 more people succumbed to the virus, raising the total number of fatalities to 71.

The Health Ministry has ordered testing at retirement homes to be raised, including the immediate tests of all residents and personnel if any infection has been detected. The decision follows the 10 deaths at the Mishan nursing home in the southern Israeli city of Be’er Sheva.

In other developments, the High Court of Justice has rejected a petition against the government’s closure of the predominately ultra-Orthodox Jewish city of Bnei Brak. The Justices ruled that declaration of the city as a restricted area was extraordinary and unprecedented, yet enacted to save lives and therefore taking precedence over the curtailing of citizens’ rights. The court further rejected the argument of the Bnei Brak municipality and other petitioners that the social and religious identities of the city’s residents played any role in the lockdown.

Meanwhile, the full curfew imposed nationwide yesterday afternoon ahead of the Biblical holiday of Passover is now being implemented by the Israel police, in cooperation with the military and border police units. According to Police Spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld, the prevention of people from leaving their homes “is absolutely necessary.” He said the first stage of Operation Spring Protection, as the mission has been codenamed, was the setting up of roadblocks across all major highways and patrols to stop intercity travel; in accordance with a cabinet order enacted from 7 PM yesterday through Friday morning.

A second set of stricter restrictions, beginning at 3 PM today through tomorrow morning, forbids citizens to be more than 100 meters from their homes. Thousands of Israelis flooded pharmacies and grocery stores throughout the country in a last bid to stock-up on commodities ahead of the general lockdown.

It is important to note that the government has not abandoned any residents under quarantine or living in blockaded cities. The Israeli military launched a wide-scale humanitarian operation to distribute aid boxes throughout the city of Bnei Brak, and other relevant locations. The packages include customary foods consumed in accordance with Biblical instructions pertaining to the observance of the Passover holiday, as recorded the Book of Exodus, Chapter 12: Verses 14 -18.