Photo Credit: Miriam Alster / Flash 90
Visitors wear protective face masks at the "Jeff Koons" exhibit at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, after it reopened June 03, 2020.

Israel’s Health Ministry reported late in the day Wednesday there were 175 new cases of the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, diagnosed within the past 24 hours.

One day prior, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein warned bluntly that the daily coronavirus count was rapidly moving towards 200 new cases per day. “Just so we’re clear, the situation is not good,” he said. “If we don’t wake up, If we don’t wake up, we’ll find ourselves in a very problematic situation,” he added.

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Health Minister Yuli Edelstein Warns COVID-19 Morbidity in Israel Approaching 200 New Cases Daily
A total of 148 new cases were confirmed Tuesday, compared to 176 on Monday and 140 on Sunday.

Wednesday’s figure brings the number of active cases to 2,869. Of those, 31 patients were listed in very serious condition, including 22 who require ventilator support; another 42 patients are being treated for moderately difficult symptoms, and the rest are contending with “mild” symptoms.

No new deaths were reported within the past 24 hours, leaving the current death toll at 299; even better news is that 15,159 have recovered from the virus.

Numbers Rising in the Schools
Israel’s Education Ministry released its figures as well on Wednesday, noting there are 433 students and teachers who are currently ill with COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Nearly 24,000 students, teachers and staff members are in quarantine and 144 schools across the country have been shut down.

At least one person, and in many cases more than one person, has been diagnosed with the virus in the building when it is closed in order to prevent the spread of the illness.

Police Increase Enforcement of Directives
Israeli police have increased their enforcement of government regulations requiring citizens to wear face masks in public. At least 381 fines were handed out so far this week, according to a report by Channel 12 television news — a figure four times higher than any day last week.

An individual who is caught not wearing their mask in public can be still be fined NIS 200 ($60) but there is no longer a grace period or a first-time warning.

Police have also fined more business owners who failed to adhere to government coronavirus restrictions, according to the report.

Government Beefs Up Enforcement Teams
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened a meeting Tuesday evening with the country’s top security, health, and local authority and other government officials in order to “formulate immediate practical steps to tighten enforcement of the health directives dealing with the coronavirus.”

It was decided that in addition to enforcing the directives regarding masks, existing police, local authority inspectors and qualified Population and Immigration Authority inspectors would tighten enforcement regarding:

  • Gatherings contrary to directives,
  • The “purple badge” standard for businesses and commercial centers, and
  • Enforcing quarantine for people with COVID-19 and persons with whom they have been in contact.

The prime minister directed the Federation of Local Authorities to finish preparing an “immediate training program” in order to teach inspectors what they will need to know by next Monday.

The Justice Ministry will complete legislative procedures to authorize inspectors and the Public Security Ministry will provide “overall guidance,” according to a communique from the Prime Minister’s Office.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.