Photo Credit: Gili Yaari / Flash 90
Israeli Border Guard Police officer at a Bnei Brak checkpoint during a COVID-19 "red zone" closure on the city

Israel’s Health Ministry announced a change of criteria Wednesday evening that determine the coronavirus “traffic light” status of the nation’s cities.

The change, which takes effect immediately, has resulted in an increase in the number of cities designated as red zones and orange zones.

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On Tuesday, there were 16 red zone cities and 27 orange zone cities.

Within 24 hours, effective Wednesday night, there were 24 red zone cities and 32 orange zone cities. There were 52 yellow zone cities and 1,153 green zone cities.

In accordance with a decision made by the coronavirus cabinet, classes in grades 5 through 12 will be allowed to open only in cities and communities designated as yellow and/or green zones.

There is, however, some good news in all this: so far, at least, preschools and classrooms in grades 1 through 4 remain open in all cities regardless of zone designation and/or level of infection.

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Heading for Lockdown, Again?
As of Wednesday morning (Dec. 2) there were 1,182 new cases of COVID-19 diagnosed during the previous 24 hours, with 266 patients listed in serious condition and of those, 94 requiring ventilators for life support. There were 11,072 Israelis fighting the virus, the highest figure since October 30.

By nightfall the numbers had jumped even more, with the ministry reporting a total of 1,247 newly-diagnosed cases of COVID-19 for the day, resulting in a 1.9 percent infection rate.

The death toll remains steady at 2,877.

The Health Ministry has been considering a call for a lockdown when the number of new daily coronavirus cases reaches 2,000, and the infection positivity rate reaches 1.3 percent, according to a report earlier this week by Israel’s public broadcasting network, Kan News.

As can be seen, the numbers are already nearly there on one of the two measures used for criteria to determine whether to call for a lockdown.

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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.