Saying that the next few days are a test for the nation, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced at the end of May that he would not impose another lockdown on the country, for now, despite the fact that there’s been a marked increase in COVID-19 cases since the country emerged from nationwide confinement.
Most new cases were diagnosed among teachers and students in schools and daycare centers across the country that had only recently reopened their doors. Several high schools, including in Jerusalem, were shut down in late May after the virus infection spread, but sweeping closures of the educational systems are on hold.
A possible new lockdown of the country is under consideration after the rate of positive results of daily COVID-19 tests were found to be five times higher than in the prior several days. Prime Minister 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 countries of 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, Israeli press reported.
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 372,000 lives, more than 100,000 in the United States alone, according to Johns Hopkins University.