Photo Credit: Flash 90
Minister of Health Yuli Edelstein speaks during a press conference about the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, at the Health Ministry in Jerusalem on May 31, 2020.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Thursday that Israel’s public is facing a renewed lockdown if the spread of the novel coronavirus in the country is not brought under control.

“There is no doubt that we need to stop this disease,” Netanyahu said in his remarks at a ceremony to introduce the Health Ministry’s new director-general, Professor Hezy Levi, who is replacing outgoing Health Ministry director-general Moshe Bar Siman-Tov.

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Outgoing Health Minister Yaacov Litzman was also present, as was current Health Minister Yuli Edelstein, who thanked Bar Siman-Tov for his handling of the crisis and called him the “right man at the right time in the right place” for the task. Edelstein added that the people of Israel “certainly” owe him thanks and “in many cases, an apology” for their criticism of his efforts.

Netanyahu noted that Bar Siman-Tov always gave him “precise information and a true statement” of his best judgment. Likewise, the prime minister said once again, the information he has received points to the same direction: “The disease is coming back.

“We have, for the time being, finished with opening up more of the economy,” he said.

“There is no substitute for changing the habits of the public. If that does not happen, we will be forced to take more assertive measures,” the prime minister warned. “That includes lockdowns – targeted lockdowns, which we will begin immediately, and also general actions for the population.

“We need to flatten the curve again, and we will take the necessary steps in order to make sure this rise is halted,” Netanyahu underlined.

The number of active cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus, passed 4,000 on Thursday morning, less than three weeks after it had dropped to around 2,000 earlier in the month.

Israel’s Health Ministry reported in the morning hours there were 257 new cases of the infection diagnosed within the past 24 hours. Of those, at least 38 patients were seriously ill, with 28 requiring ventilator support. On a positive note, there were no new deaths reported, leaving the number of Israelis killed by the virus at 303. In addition, 15,499 Israelis have recovered from the illness after a total of 19,894 citizens have struggled with the virus since the start of the pandemic.

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