In Brief: Israel fears second coronavirus wave as cases rise sharply

Israel recorded 300 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday morning, raising fears that the country is experiencing a second wave of the deadly pandemic. The number of cases reported by the Health Ministry was the highest daily rise in nearly two months. With a further death reported overnight, the number of fatalities has risen to 303. Official figures suggested that 37 people are in a serious condition, including 27 on ventilators. The number of active cases in the country has nearly reached 4,000, earlier in the month it had dipped to 2,000. The spike follows the easing of Israel’s tight lockdown measures over the past month with schools, businesses, restaurants, bars, tourist attractions and other establishments reopening. Schools are believed to have been at the centre of the new wave. Earlier this month, the government opted not to shut all schools again. Instead, only schools where students or staff have tested positive to the virus have been closed. Over 22,700 staff and students are currently in isolation and the number of schools that have been closed is 177. In a late-night vote, the Knesset approved extending the coronavirus emergency measures for a further 45 days. The law, which was due to expire overnight, requires Israelis to wear masks in public areas, enter quarantine after coming into contact with a confirmed or a suspected coronavirus patient and observe social distancing. It also allows police to disperse gatherings and levy fines to those violating the restrictions. Health minister Yuli Edelstein is believed to be pushing for the government not to begin reopening theatres and train services. Large entertainment venues remain closed. Israel’s borders are also closed.
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