Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
Israeli Border Police officers patrol the Mahane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem, June 24, 2020.

According to Israel’s health Ministry, for more than a month, the trend of the coronavirus in Israel has been on the rise. In recent days, the number of patients has risen significantly and reached 966 patients per day, with a doubling rate of less than ten days. Therefore, the ministry and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have decided that significant measures are required at this time, including declaring some areas as Restricted Zones, and taking additional measures throughout the state.

Meanwhile, a report in Haaretz on Thursday pointed out a serious lack of communication between the Health Ministry in regard to setting the country’s economic course during the second wave of the pandemic.

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The Ministerial Committee on Declaring Restricted Zones on Wednesday night declared the following areas as Restricted Zones:

Ashdod: the Gimmel, Zayin and Chet neighborhoods.

Lod: the Rechevet, Snir and Neveh Shalom neighborhoods.

The declaration of these neighborhoods as Restricted Zones shall be in effect for seven days, from 8:00 AM Thursday, July 2, 8:00 AM Thursday, July 9. Entry and exit to and from the Restricted Zones shall be limited as will be traffic and businesses within these areas.

Health Ministry Director General Hezi Levy will presently sign an order limiting the activity of educational institutions, and an order to prevent gatherings in Beitar Ilit.

Sheba Medical Center team at the coronavirus isolation ward, June 30, 2020. / Yossi Zeliger/Flash90

Haaretz reported on Thursday that five months after the coronavirus erupted in Israel, the Health Ministry’s control system is still full of holes and the partial information it provides is making it difficult to make decisions to continue dealing with the crisis and mobilize the public. Many officials are saying that they are not receiving critical data regarding the state of the economy, the real rate of unemployment and other areas (תמונת המצב של התפרצות הקורונה חסרה, והחלטות קריטיות מתקבלות בערפל).

These officials added that they were not aware of the Health Ministry collecting the information in these areas at all, and noted that the Finance Ministry’s Budget Department had made great efforts to ask, persuade and even threaten Health Ministry staff to give them this information.

For instance, Finance Ministry officials have asked the Health Ministry to add to the epidemiological investigation form filled by each new patient a section on the location where their infection occurred—was it an event hall or their workplace—but the health officials have ignored the request, which impacts the effectiveness of decisions to close or keep open different sectors of the economy.

They also said that at one point the Finance Ministry contacted the Gartner Institute for Epidemiology Research, which assists the Health Ministry, and asked for infection data – but soon thereafter, the Health Ministry took control of the institute and prevented the release of the needed information.

As of June 30 at 10:00 PM, there were 402 active patients in Ashdod, the rate of active patients per 100,000 people there is 178.1 and the rate of increase in morbidity on the basis of active patients in the last seven days is 243.6%.

It should be noted that most of the patients live in the three neighborhoods that were declared Restricted Areas, and there is a significant gap in the number of active patients compared to the other neighborhoods in the city.

Lod has 93 active patients, the rate of active patients per 100,000 people there is 121.9 and the rate of increase in morbidity on the basis of active patients in the last seven days is 244.4%.

A major area of ​​morbidity in the city is located in neighborhoods that have been declared Restricted Areas and can be separated from the rest of the city.

Prior to the recommendation, and during the period in which the Restricted Area rules are in effect, the Health Ministry together with the local authorities and the other relevant entities, took various steps to reduce the morbidity by informing, enforcing and removing patients as much as possible. At this time, according to the ministry, these measures appear to be insufficient to reduce the spread of disease in these areas and should be declared Restricted Areas which entails all possible restrictions. Alongside this, the enforcement, education, and evacuation of patients that require isolation will continue as much as possible, and additional measures will be taken in collaboration with the local authority and other agencies.

Israel saw 868 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours, with two new deaths since midnight. There are 57 severe cases. 83 patients have recovered since midnight.

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