Israeli officials were unable to reach an agreement Monday on further steps to counter the spread of coronavirus, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed police to step up enforcement of existing measures.
Netanyahu also instructed officials to present the government with a plan to further increase restrictions, seeking to keep Israelis in their homes and allowing people out only to buy food and medical supplies or for vital work.
On the table was the prospect of bringing all public transportation to a halt for a period of seven days as part of efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus.
It appears banks and other vital services will also be allowed to remain open.
A panel of economic experts was asked to submit by Tuesday an outline for a relief package for Israelis laid off or forced to take unpaid leave.
Officials have also been tasked with devising a plan to increase testing for the virus that must include locating infected cases as well as survey testing to identify infected areas.
Health Ministry officials are seeking a complete shutdown for a period of one week to be imposed on the entire population after Israelis were leaving home to seek relief from their confinement in parks and on beaches. This measure was opposed by government ministers who were concerned that it could deal a fatal blow to the economy, but agreed to a clampdown on any unnecessary excursions.
Earlier Monday, Health Ministry No. 2 Prof. Itamar Grotto said Israel was increasing the number of tests for coronavirus and has ordered 500,000 additional kits.
"Unfortunately, those tests will not be able to tell us definitively if a coronavirus patient is no longer contagious or if they are immune to further infection," Grotto said.
Meanwhile, State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman warned in his annual report Monday that the Israeli health system in is unprepared to deal with the magnitude of patients during a pandemic due to a shortage of hospital beds, ventilators and other medical supplies.
The report was prepared before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.