Photo Credit: Flash90
Hospital beds being prepared at Tel Hashomer hospital for an influx of patients. March 17, 2020

The number of Israelis infected with COVID-19 reached 1,930 on Tuesday evening, with 34 patients in very serious condition, and 45 in fair condition, the Health Ministry announced. At least 161 people who have mild symptoms are being housed in hotels that are run by the IDF Home Front Command.

Three patients have died, including an 87-year-old man who was suffering from diabetes and dementia, and a 67-year-old woman whose husband and other family members have now also tested positive for the virus.

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There were 488 new cases reported over the 24-hour period between Monday and Tuesday – the biggest one-day jump seen in Israel since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On the good news side, many more Israelis have been tested for the virus. Between Monday and Tuesday mornings alone, 3,743 people were tested; in the 24 hours prior to Monday morning, 3,230 people were tested as well. Thus far, a total of 135,000 people have monitored themselves under home quarantine.

A government meeting was held late Tuesday night by phone to determine whether and how to further tighten restrictions on the Israeli public as a way to stop the spread of the virus.

The ministers were asked to approve emergency regulations that include a complete halt to public transportation. Workers remaining in essential employment will be asked to use special shuttles, and will be required to have their temperatures measured at the entrance of their workplace prior to entry. Anyone else will be permitted to travel by taxis, one passenger per vehicle. Israelis will be permitted to leave their homes for exercise, at a distance of 100 meters.

According to multiple reports, there will be a ban on takeout from restaurants, but deliveries will still be permitted. So far, supermarkets remain open, and so do pharmacies and medical clinics.

However, none of the above measures have been officially announced thus far.

Fifteen employees at the Tnuva dairy company have been quarantined after it became known they were exposed to one fellow employee in the packing division who was infected with the virus, Channel 13 reported. The entire “relevant area” was disinfected, Tnuva said in a statement.

Israel’s State Comptroller Matanyahu Engleman also entered self-quarantine at home on Tuesday after he came into contact with a worker in his office who was found to be infected with COVID-19, according to Israel’s Kan public broadcasting network. The state comptroller and other high-ranking officials in the office all began a 10-day quarantine period to ensure they were free of the virus.

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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.