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

Ultra-Orthodox Jews light a Lag BaOmer bonfire in Jerusalem’s religious Mea Shearim neighborhood amid orders to cancel all Lag BaOmer holiday celebrations, on May 11, 2020, during the coronavirus pandemic. (AFP)

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.

Read more:

Coronavirus: Ultra-orthodox Jews cough on Israeli police, calling them 'Nazis'

Coronavirus: Cases in Gaza Strip spike, Palestinian officials say

Coronavirus: Israel hits 100,000 COVID-19 cases amid criticism of gov’t response

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Last Update: Wednesday, 09 September 2020 KSA 23:40 - GMT 20:40
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