Israel Sees Largest Single-day Jump in Coronavirus Cases
Israel’s Health Ministry on Wednesday morning raised the country’s number of confirmed cases of coronavirus to 5,591, a jump of 760 over the previous 24-hour period and the largest single-day increase since the outbreak began. Twenty-one people in Israel have died from COVID-19 – the disease caused by the pathogen – and the number of those in serious condition is approaching 100. It comes amid reports that authorities failed to test hundreds of individuals who recently entered the Jewish state from coronavirus hotspots such as the US, Italy, Spain and France, and that these people were not being monitored despite a government-imposed requirement that they self-isolate for two weeks. While Israel has been praised for its response to the pandemic, there appear to be growing divisions within the cabinet on how to balance public safety controls – primarily those restricting freedom of movement – with the need to stave off economic collapse. Defense Minister Naftali Bennett on Tuesday contended that unless current regulations are lifted in the near future, more Israelis would commit suicide due to economic and mental distress than die from COVID-19. Some 800,000 Israelis lost their jobs in March, raising the nation’s unemployment rate from 4% to 24%. Meanwhile, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi and two other generals tested negative after they were quarantined due to possible exposure to a carrier. For the time being, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu remains in self-isolation after one of his senior advisers contracted the illness. Regarding the Palestinians, Ramallah on Wednesday confirmed 15 new cases of coronavirus in the West Bank, while health officials in the Gaza Strip announced 12 new diagnoses. Some 150 cases have been verified in the two territories.