Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel / Flash 90
Magen David Adom worker prepares a COVID-19 vaccine at Amigur retirement residence in Jerusalem on August 4, 2021.

Despite the efforts of the Lapid-Bennett government which hoped prove its love for the people of Israel and its desire not to return the country to COVID-19 restrictions that were forced on Israelis by the Big Bad Old Netanyahu government — it’s happening anyway.

Ultimately, one simply cannot fight reality by talk, a sad fact the “change government” is now learning first-hand. The number of new cases diagnosed daily is still rising, as are the number of patients in serious-to-critical condition, and the number of Israelis who lose their lives to the coronavirus.

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On Sunday, Israel’s new government re-imposed a set of COVID-19 restrictions approved Thursday that are aimed at bringing the skyrocketing numbers back under control — with quiet murmurs that there may yet be a lockdown in place before the end of this month.

The Latest COVID-19 Restrictions

  • Masks must be worn outdoors in events of 100+ participants — a restriction not seen since April 2021. No masks required for children under age 7, those with disabilities, or those engaged in a sports activity.
  • Green Pass system extended to all gatherings, not just those with 100+ participants — events such as cultural and sporting events, gyms, restaurants, dining rooms, conferences, tourist attractions. Masks are compulsory except when eating or drinking.
  • Green Pass system also extended to hotels
  • IDF decides to recruit only those who are vaccinated.
  • Government ministries and other public offices to return to reduced capacity in the workplace, with 50 percent of employees returning to remote work from home. This restriction was also imposed in February 2021 during the third wave.
  • Primary caregiver must enter quarantine together with any child exposed to a coronavirus contact. Vaccination status irrelevant.
  • Hefty fine of NIS 3,500 to be imposed on those who prevent a child under 12 from getting a COVID-19 test, and/or entering quarantine. Higher fine of NIS 5,000 imposed on anyone violating quarantine orders.

Here’s Why
Take a look at the numbers over the past week, just to get quick idea of what is happening in the Jewish State. For a start, this weekend the number of serious-to-critical cases topped 300. Worse, sixteen Israelis lost their lives to the coronavirus in a two-day period.

But it is the galloping rate of infection, and particularly the rise in the number of serious-to-critical cases that finally forced Israeli ministers and health officials to take action.

Here’s a snapshot of the numbers.

August 1, 10 am (Sunday)
2,080 newly diagnosed out of 66,449 tested for the virus July 31.
212 patients in serious/critical condition (Aug 1), including
37 patients on respirators
COVID-19 death toll: 6,474 to date.

August 2, 10 am (Monday)
2,114 newly diagnosed out of 80,647 tested for the virus Aug. 1.
212 patients in serious/critical condition (Aug 2), including
42 patients on respirators.
COVID-19 death toll: 6,477 to date.

August 3, 10 am (Tuesday)
3,818 newly diagnosed out of 113,723 tested for the virus Aug. 2.
221 patients in serious/critical condition (Aug 3), including
46 patients on respirators.
COVID-19 death toll: 6,492 to date.

August 4, 1:37 pm (Wednesday)
3,280 newly diagnosed out of 98,854 tested for the virus Aug. 3.
236 patients in serious/critical condition (Aug 4), including
49 patients on respirators.
COVID-19 death toll: 6,497 to date.

August 5, 9:30 am (Thursday)
3,421 newly diagnosed out of 105,221 tested for the virus Aug. 4.
241 patients in serious/critical condition (Aug 5), including
51 patients on respirators.
COVID-19 death toll: 6,503 to date.

August 6, 9:40 am (Friday)
3,875 newly diagnosed out of 102,749 tested for the virus, Aug 5.
275 patients in serious/critical condition (Aug 6), including
52 patients on respirators.
COVID-19 death toll: 6,504 to date (14 people died Friday)

August 7, 11:15 pm (Saturday/Shabbat)
3,849 newly diagnosed out of 102,760 tested on Aug. 6.
324 patients in serious/critical condition (Aug 7)
49 patients on respirators.
COVID-19 death toll: 6,535 to date
Positivity rate: 3.79 percent

August 8, 9:40 am (Sunday)
3,372 newly diagnosed out of 76,203 tested on Aug 7 — note the reduced numbers for weekend testing and diagnoses.
367 patients in serious/critical condition (Aug 8, morning)
52 patients on respirators
COVID-19 death toll: 6,535 to date (2 people died Sunday).

The contagion / positivity rate on Sunday was up to 3.7 percent.

A total 31,736 active cases of COVID-19 were recorded; Israel has seen 897,326 verified infections of SARS-CoV-2 since the start of the pandemic.

In one week’s time there was a jump from 2,080 newly diagnosed cases, compared to 3,372 new cases. Seven days ago, there were 212 patients listed in serious/critical condition, and 37 patients on respirators, compared to 367 patients listed in serious/critical condition this weekend, with 52 patients on respirators.

Of even more concern is the fact that at least 61 Israelis died this past week from COVID-19.

Consider the numbers from a month ago, even six weeks ago.

On June 22, the number of newly diagnosed cases of COVID-19 in Israel topped 100 (105). The next day there were 110 new cases of the virus. The positivity rate stood at 0.3 percent. There were 19 serious cases of the virus.

Three weeks later, on July 12, there were 730 new cases of COVID-19 out of 58,101 Israelis who were tested for the virus. The positivity rate at that point was 1.26 percent. There were 46 serious cases of the virus, now including 10 patients on life support.

One week after that – on July 19 – the numbers doubled, with 1,538 Israeli newly diagnosed with the coronavirus out of 67,676 tests carried out. The positivity rate was 2.08 percent. There were 121 patients listed in serious-to-critical condition, including 20 patients on life support.

At that point, the Israeli government slowly began to implement coronavirus restrictions.

COVID-19 in Israel: A Comprehensive Up-To-Date Guide

120 Rapid-Test Sites Nationwide: ‘Lockdown a Last Resort’
Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz announced the opening of nearly 120 rapid antigen testing centers across Israel at a briefing Sunday in the Jerusalem headquarters of Magen David Adom (MDA).

The centers, to be operated by MDA, are expected to carry out tens of thousands of tests daily. The tests will provide results in 15 minutes, Horowitz said, with an 85 to 95 percent accuracy level.

“We understand the coronavirus will not go away anytime soon,” Horowitz told reporters. “With the vaccines, the rapid tests will allow a safer management of life in Israel over time.”

The announcement was possibly aimed to sweeten the bitter news that Israel reinstated coronavirus restrictions that were lifted earlier this year.

“Lockdown is a last resort,” Horowitz emphasized. “We are doing everything to avoid it. . .I do not accept arguments that a decision to impose a lockdown should be taken now.”

A previous decision to reopen the nation’s classrooms on September 1 at the start of the new school year, is also being revisited, however, in light of the climbing numbers.

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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.