(5 Jul 2020) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday the country was “at the height of a new corona offensive” following a recent spike in coronavirus cases.
After imposing strict measures early on during a first wave of infections, Israel and the Palestinian territories appeared to have contained their outbreaks, with each reporting only a few dozen new cases a day in May.
But an easing of restrictions led to a steady uptick in cases over the past month.
“This is a very strong outbreak that is growing and spreading in the world and also here,” Netanyahu said at a meeting of his Cabinet on Sunday.
He added that Israel would need to further clamp down to rein in the virus.
Israel is now reporting around 1,000 new cases a day, higher than its peak during the previous wave and it is set to reimpose restrictions in response, limiting occupancy in bars, places of worship and event spaces to 50 people.
It is requiring citizens wear masks and has urged more stringent social distancing.
Meanwhile, a statement on Sunday from Israel’s Health Ministry said “many” messages had been sent to Israelis following the renewed involvement of the Shin Bet domestic security agency.
The Israeli daily Haaretz reported that more than 30,000 people were notified they must enter quarantine since Thursday.
With its contact tracing apparatus struggling to keep up with the mounting caseload, Israel last week redeployed the Shin Bet to use its sophisticated phone surveillance technology to track Israelis who have come in contact with infected people and then notify them that they must enter home quarantine.
The measure is typically used to thwart attacks by tracking Palestinian militants.
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