Israel Reports Lowest Number of New Coronavirus Cases in Six Weeks
Israel appears to have turned the corner in its battle against the coronavirus, with health officials on Sunday night reporting 23 new cases of COVID-19 in the previous 24-hour period – the lowest of any day over the past six weeks. According to reports, 80% of Israeli cities and towns are now coronavirus-free, which has allowed the government to move toward reopening the battered economy. This week, some 1 million Israeli students are slated to return to school, although strict social-distancing regulations remain in place. The government is reportedly eyeing a four-step “exit strategy,” whose initial phase will include the lifting of a ban on gatherings – which nevertheless will be limited to 10 people – and the relaxation of a prohibition on individuals venturing farther than a few hundred meters from home for non-essential purposes. By mid-May, malls, open-air markets and beaches along with museums and libraries could be reopened, while restaurants might be able to accept diners on-site beginning June 15. It is unclear when air travel will be allowed to resume on a gradual basis. Overall, Israel’s Health Ministry has confirmed more than 16,200 coronavirus cases, resulting in 232 deaths as of Monday morning. Nearly 10,000 people infected with COVID-19 have recovered.