Some 1,071 Israelis have been infected with the novel coronavirus at press time, with the spike in the number of diagnoses likely tied to a sharp increase in the number of coronavirus tests being conducted – some 2,473 at press time.
According to Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman, already this week Israel will be carrying out an average of 3,000 tests per day and 5,000 by next week – and that number is expected to be 10,000 per day in two weeks.
Through the weekend, Magen David Adom had tested a total of about 14,000 people.
Of the 1,071 diagnosed with coronavirus, 985 had mild cases, 24 moderate cases and 18 serious ones. One person, an 88-year-old Holocaust survivor, died over the weekend. So far 37 people have recovered.
On Sunday, Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center reported that a baby in its neonatal intensive care unit had contracted the virus and is in serious condition.
The hospital explained that the baby had been tested after a hospital staff member who was serving in the prenatal ward contracted the virus from an infected person outside the hospital. Several staff members and the parents of the baby are now in isolation.
In addition, the IDF reported on Sunday that there are currently 16 soldiers suffering from the novel coronavirus, and MK Yitzhak Cohen, who serves as deputy finance minister, entered home quarantine on Sunday, his office reported. He was in the presence of a person who contracted the virus and so placed himself under quarantine following the Health Ministry's instructions.
As the number of people in quarantine continues to rise and new and stronger restrictions are put in place by the government, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held an economic consultation with Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, Economy and Industry Minister Eli Cohen, National Security Council head Meir Ben-Shabbat, Bank of Israel Governor Amir Yaron, National Economic Council head Prof. Avi Simhon, Prime Minister's Office director-general Ronen Peretz, and Finance Ministry director-general Shai Babad. Other key officials also participated.
At the conclusion of the meeting, Netanyahu instructed the economic team to present within 48 hours a revised strategic plan for managing the economy. The plan, he said, will include an updated, extensive and significant relief package, including assistance for the self-employed, wage earners, businesses and households.
According to the Israeli Employment Service, around 100,000 people registered for unemployment in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of unemployed applicants to 551,830 people. The unemployment rate has increased fourfold to 16.5%. Before the outbreak of the coronavirus, the unemployment rate was about 4%.
The economic downturn is a result of a series of emergency orders that the country has put in place to help stop the spread of the virus, which has killed nearly 15,000 people around the world.
Now, Litzman said he is considering extending daylight savings time to help keep people off the streets late at night.
"We are considering extending daylight saving time," Litzman told Channel 12, adding that Interior Minister Arye Deri is already working to implement this move, which would have to take place by Thursday, when clocks are scheduled to change.
At the same time, acting police chief Moti Cohen said the police are ready if the country should decide to implement a general closure.
The plan would involve dividing the country into quadrants, each headed by a captain and team of police and soldiers, who would monitor borders, movement and enforce quarantine.
Cohen made clear that the decision to implement a full closure is not yet on the table, but the police wanted to be prepared.
Israel Police released a statement on Sunday afternoon detailing their efforts to assist the Health Ministry in curbing the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.
As of Sunday afternoon, 126 criminal cases related to quarantine violations have been opened. In addition, the Investigations and Intelligence Division has been working to monitor and track distributors and producers of fake and fraudulent news over the past few days, with 19 investigations having been opened to date on various cases of citizens spreading false information.
In recent days, the police have also started to hand out fines for violations of the recent orders, with a special focus on those violating quarantine or gathering in large groups.
So far, 42 fines have been issued.
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