Israeli police stopping cars to enforce coronavirus lockdown orders, near Damascus Gate, outside Jerusalem's Old City, March 26, 2020. (Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Nationwide Passover Lockdown Takes Effect in Israel

A nationwide lockdown restricting Israelis from leaving home went into effect on Wednesday at 3 p.m. local time. The government-imposed restriction, which will be lifted early Thursday morning, is geared toward preventing people from congregating for the traditional Passover Seder. Intercity travel has been restricted until at least Friday morning, with police monitoring some 50 roadblocks erected across the country. It comes as health officials raised the country’s number of confirmed coronavirus cases to more than 9,400. Seventy-one people were dead as of Wednesday morning, and nearly 150 others were in critical condition, the majority being sustained by ventilators. Meanwhile, a flight from Seoul carrying reagents for tens of thousands of coronavirus tests was set to land in Israel on Wednesday afternoon. Health officials have been conducting about 7,000 tests per day – well below the benchmark of 10,000 previously set for this week – due to a lack of necessary chemical compounds. It comes 48 hours after the first of 11 scheduled flights from China arrived in Israel with hundreds of thousands of medical items, including masks and protective suits.

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