Coronavirus: Israel to tighten second lockdown as infections continue to rise
Israel is set to tighten its second nationwide coronavirus lockdown, with the prime minister warning that the country is at “the edge of the abyss”.
“The morbidity rate in Israel is rising, the number of critical patients is rising, unfortunately so is the number of deaths,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday.
The Israeli cabinet voted to close all non-essential businesses and restrict demonstrations on Thursday amid soaring coronavirus case numbers.
Meanwhile, synagogues would only be able to open for small groups next week for Yom Kippur, Judaism’s holiest day.
The new measures are expected to take effect at 14:00 (11:00 GMT) on Friday and last until after the Jewish holiday of Sukkot ends on 11 October.
Israel entered its second lockdown on September 18, but cases continued to rise reaching a daily level of almost 7,000 new infections. The country is among the worst-hit on a per-capita basis anywhere in the world.
Since the outbreak began over 200,000 people have reportedly been infected and 1,335 people have died. On Thursday the country was reporting over 50,000 active cases.
In a country of 9 million people, these numbers proved a significant strain on the resources of some hospitals.
Rivals have reportedly accused the prime minister of using the measures as cover to stop dissent. He has called the rallies against him a farce.
The protesters have gathered outside the prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem every week to demand that he step down while on trial on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust.
Mr Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing.