After early virus success, Israel heads for partial lockdown

Once a role model in the fight against Covid-19, Israel decided Sunday to partially lock down several cities to slow the fast-spreading contagion as the government faces harsh criticism over the crisis.

The government’s ministerial committee on coronavirus decided to impose “a nightly closure” on 40 cities and towns with the highest infection rates, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement.

He said “educational institutions” would be closed with the exception of special education centres, and gatherings limited to 10 people in closed spaces and 20 outdoors.

“I know these limitations are not easy, but in the current situation, there’s no way to avoid them,” Netanyahu said of the restrictions set to begin on Monday.

Israel passed the milestone of 1,000 novel coronavirus deaths this weekend after the toll tripled over the summer, fuelling regular protests against Netanyahu’s management of the health crisis and associated economic downturn.

The dead were commemorated by Yediot Aharonot, Israel’s top-selling daily newspaper, which covered its front page with the names of the victims and called out the “shameful failure of the management of the crisis since May”.

According to data collected by AFP, the Jewish state has risen to be ranked fifth in the world for the number of infections per capita over the past two weeks, ahead of hard-hit countries Brazil and the United States.

On Wednesday, the country with a population of under nine million confirmed a record 3,141 new infections in a single day.

The ballooning cases stood in contrast to the low number of infections recorded in the early stages of the pandemic. (AFP | Guillaume Lavallee)

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