At the end of May, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he would not impose another lockdown on the country despite a marked increase in COVID-19 cases since the country emerged from nationwide confinement.
In school after school around the country, teachers and students are being diagnosed with the virus, accounting for most of the nation’s new cases. In one Jerusalem high school, more than 170 students and staff were infected in late May, closing the school immediately. Israeli Education Minister Yoav Galant announced that a school would only be shut down if a person there was found to be infected, rather than close all schools in the country.
Although the prime minister said a possible new lockdown of the country was under consideration, it appeared doubtful that he would take that action after the economy started reopening. The country reported the rate of positive results of daily COVID-19 tests were found to be five times higher than in the previous several days.
Netanyahu blamed the “loosening” of Israelis’ observance of social-distancing rules.
“As long as no vaccine is found for the virus, it will return and spread if we aren’t meticulous about the rules,” he said. “If we don’t do this, there will be no choice but to return to limitations on the economy and public sphere.”
Netanyahu also warned the public not to be complacent as the temperatures rise. “Unfortunately, this virus is not impressed by the weather. It is not affected at all by the climate.” He pointed to the spreading virus in hot countries around the world, including in nearby Egypt and Turkey as well as in cooler Scandinavian countries.
“In Sweden, where the number of citizens is identical to ours and which deliberately declined to impose health restrictions, … there are currently 4,300 dead from coronavirus,” the prime minister pointed out. “In Belgium, where the population is also identical to ours and which took cautious measures but very belatedly, there are currently almost 10,000 dead.”
Israel’s death toll stood at 284 the last day of May, with a total of about 17,000 cases, according to Israeli press. By June 7, the total number of cases had risen to 17,863, and deaths to 298.
Netanyahu added that Israel had “not reached the horrific numbers of other countries because we took effective, rapid and timely steps.”
Worldwide, COVID-19 has taken more than 400,000 lives, with more than 100,000 in the United States alone, according to Johns Hopkins University.