Israel on cusp of second lockdown as Covid-19 cases surge
Jerusalem, Jul 16 (efe-epa).- Israel is on the cusp of returning to a lockdown after 1,900 new coronavirus cases were detected in the last 24 hours.
The government has previously warned that reimposing restrictions would be all but inevitable if the daily infection numbers surpassed 2,000.
Medical experts and the health and defense ministries have all warned of a looming return to nationwide restrictions on movement amid a strong secondary wave of Covid-19.
Authorities took measures last week to isolate outbreaks in certain neighborhoods and closed bars, gyms and swimming pools but the move has failed to stem the upward trend in cases, which is growing faster than the initial wave of infections in Israel.
Israeli officials are coming up against more pushback from civilians in their bid to contain the new outbreak amid concerns that a second lockdown would deepen an economic crisis left by the first.
Having sat around the 3.3 percent mark in February, unemployment in Israel today accounts for around 21 percent of working-age people, meaning there are some 850,000 jobseekers altogether.
The self-employed have been particularly affected by the economic crisis brought on by the pandemic and have protests in large numbers.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s announcement late Wednesday that the government would draw up stimulus cheques for citizens will be a welcome relief for some families but experts and even members of the government are questioning why the policy isn’t targeting the country’s most disadvantaged more specifically.
Health minister Yuli Edelstein said the government’s decision on whether to impose a second lockdown would depend on the infection numbers in the coming days. He added, however, that it would only be avoided with a “medical miracle.”
Health experts, national security officials and government ministers are due to meet Thursday evening to discuss the issue.