Coronavirus: Israel curbs contagion zones, health chiefs self-isolate

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Israel on Tuesday began a week-long campaign of night curfews and school closures in dozens of towns and neighborhoods with high coronavirus counts, hoping to stem a spike in cases as its public-health chiefs were quarantined for exposure.

Most of the 40 zones subject to the partial lockdowns are identified with Israeli Arabs or ultra-Orthodox Jews, minorities where crowding has helped spread the pandemic.

Read the latest updates in our dedicated coronavirus section.

Israel, with a population of 9 million, has recorded 135,288 cases of the novel coronavirus and 1,031 deaths.

The discovery that a worker at a Health Ministry project for combating the virus had contracted it prompted senior staff who had been exposed to him to self-isolate as a precaution.

These included the health minister, deputy health minister, the ministry’s director-general, chief of staff and legal counsel, as well as two advisers and Israel’s coronavirus commissioner, the ministry said.

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Some government officials have called for a nationwide lockdown if the partial measures put into force on Tuesday fail.

That could disrupt celebrations of the Jewish high holy days, which run from Sept. 18 to Oct. 10.

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