Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Wednesday that Israel is limiting crowd gatherings to a maximum of 100 people to combat the rapidly growing rate of the “global plague” of coronavirus in the country.
Netanyahu made the announcements during a press conference held along with Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat and Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar-Siman-Tov.
Netanyahu said Israel is a good shape to deal with the coronavirus crisis, when compared to many other countries, having closed its “outer envelope” by requiring self-quarantine for all arrivals from abroad.
He asked Israelis to “change your day-to-day routine. “We like to hug, shake hands, kiss — don’t do it,” he said.
“Don’t shake hands. Wash your hands. Maintain good personal hygiene,” he said.
“Cough into a tissue… you don’t need masks.”
“We’re in a pandemic — a global plague.”
Netanyahu also said that younger people are not in danger from the virus, but older people are, and thus its spread must be prevented.
“If you get sick and you’re in your 20s or 30s,” he said, “you’ll get better. But if we can’t prevent the spread, we’ll infect the older people — and they’re in much greater danger… I’m talking about their lives…We have to look after dad and grandpa and grandma.
“With God’s help and everybody’s cooperation, we’ll beat this,” he said.
On Tuesday, Israel limited the gatherings to a maximum of 2,000 people, a substantial decrease from the previously allowed number of 5,000 people.
The new instructions means that studies in universities might be postponed.
Bar-Siman-Tov said authorities are currently not closing schools, though they are looking into asking institutes of higher education to hold their lessons online, with students studying from home.
Both Litzman and Bar-Siman-Tov stressed that the public should not go to the hospital unless they absolutely need to.
"If people have a fever or cough, they must stay home until their symptoms are gone even if they don’t have coronavirus," Bar-Siman-Tov said. "If you are experiencing any coronavirus symptoms, go into home quarantine."
The announcement was made after the Health Ministry gave Netanyahu the same recommendations, including canceling shows and closing movie theaters.
On Wednesday, the number of Israelis diagnosed with coronavirus rose again to 82 confirmed cases, according to the Health Ministry.
The ministry says some 31,000 people are currently under home quarantine to contain the spread of the disease in the country.
Also Wednesday, the World Health Organization officially designated the coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the organization “has been assessing this outbreak around the clock and we’re deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity and the alarming levels of inaction.
“We have therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized by ‘pandemic,'” he said.
First published: 20:13 , 03.11.20