Israel saw a 3.5% infection rate in 27,100 coronavirus tests conducted Sunday, the Health Ministry said Monday morning, as the country emerged from a month-long lockdown due to the spiraling spread of COVID-19 across the country.
According the ministry, 892 people were confirmed with COVID-19 on Sunday, bringing the number of infected patients to 29,617, with 641 people in serious condition including 238 people on ventilators.
Since the start of the pandemic, 2,209 Israelis have succumbed to the disease.
Despite the reduction in cases, the Coronavirus Information and Knowledge Center, operated by IDF Military Intelligence under the auspices of the Health Ministry, warned that while the outbreak was being contained, infection rates were still high.
The center also said that hundreds of excess deaths have been identified since August in comparison to the same time frame during previous years.
It recommended that Israel's lockdown exit plan be implemented more slowly than it currently is, calling for specific closures for virus hot spots and the shuttering of certain businesses and industries for a prolonged period, with appropriate compensation.
Israel on Sunday began to emerge from a full lockdown, with the education system and economy planning a return to operations in a more staggered manner than after the first closure in May, when the country returned to normal almost at once and infection rates soared.
Health Minister Yuli Edelstein warned Sunday that schools that reopen in violation of government orders would be "heavily fined" and their licenses be revoked.
The comments came after hundreds of ultra-Orthodox seminaries and educational institutions for all age groups opened their doors on Sunday morning in violation of restrictions imposed by the government in an effort to contain the coronavirus outbreak as the country slowly reopens.
Speaking during a press briefing, where he was joined by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the health minister said that educational institutions that reopen in violation of health directives, "shouldn't complain later that the country is mistreating them."
"There is no permission to open any educational institution for children above the age of six," he said.
"Anyone who does so will be subject to heavy fines, perhaps even the termination of their license and the denial of state budgets," Edelstein added.
"I call on all parents: do not send your children to educational institutions that operate in violation of the law ... This should be clear to everyone."
First published: 11:28 , 10.19.20