Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
MDA workers at a drive-through testing site near the separation wall at the Shuafat Refugee Camp, Jerusalem, April 16, 2020.

There has been a worrying increase in the number of coronavirus patients in recent days in the Israeli-Arab sector, according to Health Ministry reports. As of Thursday, 460 Israeli Arabs have tested positive, including an alarming rise of 500% in one week which was recorded in the Bedouin city of Rahat – from 7 to 34 cases. It was caused by nine members of one family who attended a local event, and resulted in dozens of individuals entering isolation.

Two elderly Arabs died this week after having tested positive for the coronavirus, but their families are refusing to acknowledge that they died of the disease, insisting instead that they first recovered completely and only then died.

Minister of Strategic Affairs Gilad Erdan / Hadas Parush / Flash 90
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The Health Ministry on Wednesday warned of a coronavirus outbreak in Arab communities in the Galilee, and implored residents of the area to quarantine themselves at their homes: “We are asking the residents of Deir el-Assad, Nahaf, Bi’ina, and Majd al-Krum to stay at home,” went the ministry’s message.

Stern stuff.

On the occasion of the approaching holy month of Ramadan, which this year coincides with the month of Iyar, Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan instructed the police to prepare for broad enforcement of the social distancing regulations during the month-long daytime fasting.

Minister Erdan called in a video conference attended by Deputy Chief of Police Moti Cohen, Prison Service Commissioner Gonder Asher Va’aknin, Fire Dept. Commissioner Deddi Simchi, and representatives of the NSC, IDF and MDA, “to prevent new disease enclaves and save lives, Ramadan is our most important challenge for the remainder of this fight.”

At the conference, Minister Erdan requested that the security and health organizations prepare a strategic plan to change their activities and adapt them to “living in the shadow of the coronavirus,” a change that would require a different organizational structure and a change of priorities.

The minister directed police to emphasize uncompromising enforcement of the guidelines against nationalist crimes. He also said enforcement will continue to target areas with the highest rates of infection in accordance with government policy.

The campaign to prevent a brush fire spread of the coronavirus during Ramadan, which starts next week, includes information in the Arabic media, addressing the Israeli Arab public, and setting up meetings with the leadership of the Arab public to raise awareness of the rules in Arab villages and communities.

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David writes news at JewishPress.com.