In Brief: Israel has record number of virus cases, new restrictions imposed

The number of new coronavirus cases in Israel topped 1,000 on Wednesday as the country began imposing new restrictions. On Thursday morning, the Health Ministry reported a further 195 cases, taking the total number to 26,452. The death toll in Israel rose by a further two to 324. There are currently 8,647 active cases, of which 58 are in serious condition including 24 people who are on ventilators. Earlier this week, the head of the Israeli Society for Infectious Diseases, Miri Weinberger, warned that the country is “about to lose control”. On Wednesday evening, ministers declared neighbourhoods in the cities of Ashdod (pictured) and Lod to be “restricted zones” due to a relatively high number of cases there. From this morning, movement in and out of the zones was restricted and business activity limited for a week.

In a phone conference last night, Benjamin Netanyahu warned cabinet ministers: “Numbers are rising and there is nothing on the horizon to stop them if we don’t act immediately with significant steps.” Netanyahu and defence minister Benny Gantz agreed to convene the so-called coronavirus cabinet to discuss possible further steps. According to the Ynet news site, ministers could vote to limit attendance at event halls, bars and restaurants to 50 people. The new wave of cases comes as Netanyahu’s approval ratings for handling the crisis tumble. A poll this week found 58 percent of respondents to a Channel 12 survey approved of it versus 36 percent who disapprove. Two months ago, 74 percent approved and 23 percent disapproved. Only 35 percent of voters said they thought Netanyahu was doing a good job of tackling the economic fallout from the crisis, with 58 percent give saying they did not rate the prime minister’s performance.
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