Israel steps up restrictions, testing as 433 coronavirus cases confirmed

Public Security Ministry says compulsory closures enforced by police could soon be imposed across the country; new measures include special regulations for burial society that deviate from Jewish practices; Netanyahu says at least 3,000 tests to be conducted daily

Reuters, Sivan Hilaie|
Confirmed coronavirus cases in Israel have jumped by more than 40% to 433 in the past 24 hours, the Health Ministry said Wednesday, predicting a steeper rise as mass testing is implemented.
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  • The Public Security Ministry said compulsory closures, enforced by police, could soon be imposed across the country.

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    טיילת בתל אביב, נגיף קורונה
    טיילת בתל אביב, נגיף קורונה
    An Israeli woman wears a mask as she walks along the Tel Aviv beachfront
    (Photo: AFP)
    "We will reach a situation in which there are many hundreds of new patients each day, and possibly more," Moshe Bar-Siman-Tov, the Health Ministry's director-general, told Army Radio.
    No fatalities have been reported in Israel, but a Health Ministry document dated March 17, informed medical and funeral staff of new regulations for handling anyone who dies as a result of coronavirus infection.
    These included decontaminating and hermetically wrapping bodies in double layers of polyethylene. For Jewish dead, ritual washing of the body would be conducted in one of four special stations in the country, the document showed.
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    בנימין נתניהו
    בנימין נתניהו
    Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the nation about new coronavirus measures
    (Photo: GPO)
    Such measures would be a departure from standard Jewish rites in Israel, where the body is ritually washed by a local burial society and generally wrapped only in a cloth smock and shroud.
    Having urged Israelis to stay home and approved cyber-monitoring of their movements to reduce infection risks, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at least 3,000 coronavirus tests would be conducted daily.
    Among planned means for that are drive-through testing stations in Tel Aviv and elsewhere.
    "I am glad that we have not yet lost anyone. But that will not continue to be the case," Netanyahu said in a televised statement on Tuesday.

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     הקמת אוהל בדיקות נגיף הקורונה בת"א
     הקמת אוהל בדיקות נגיף הקורונה בת"א
    A Tel Aviv car park is transformed into a testing site for coronavirus
    (Photo: Moti Kimchi)
    But the testing site in Tel Aviv remained closed on Wednesday, as medics said they were still without the necessary kits.
    An official of Hevra Kadisha, a national group that provides Jewish burial services, said contingency plans existed for mass burials in the event of a major catastrophe, such as an earthquake.
    "But we are not there, nor should we expect to be. Such events would have tens of thousands of deceased, and that is not what is being anticipated now," the official said.
    In the West Bank, Palestinian health officials have confirmed 44 cases and no fatalities. None have been detected in the densely populated Gaza Strip.
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