288 people test positive for virus in last 24 hours • Jaffa neighborhood, Rahat, Arara designated ‘red zones’

The coronavirus cabinet during a meeting on Wednesday (photo credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO)
The coronavirus cabinet during a meeting on Wednesday (photo credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO)


Trains will finally return to Israel’s railways on Monday after the coronavirus cabinet approved the renewal of services under tight health restrictions on Wednesday evening.

In addition, the ministers decided that cultural events will be permitted with crowds limited to 250 attendees, or 500 attendees if approved by the director-general of the Culture and Sport Ministry. They designated the Ajami neighborhood of Jaffa, Rahat and Arara as “red zones” with high levels of infection, where schools will now be closed and gatherings limited to 10 people.

The meeting held at the Foreign Ministry took place as official data showed that Israel had recorded its largest number of daily cases in two months.

Some 288 people tested positive for the novel coronavirus in the last 24 hours, the Health Ministry reported Wednesday evening, bringing the total number of active cases to 3,993.

At last count, 19,783 cases of coronavirus had been confirmed in Israel, and the death toll was 302.

“We have an increase in morbidity. We need to lower it, and we have to continue opening the economy,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the start of the meeting. “We will talk today about a responsible way to do that in the case of transportation too. But we must address the general increase and in specific centers of morbidity.”

Initially, trains will be limited to 500 passengers and would-be travelers must reserve a place online from 48 hours ahead of their journey. Masks must be worn at all times, and the temperature of travelers will be checked upon entry to stations.

Nighttime trains will not operate at this stage, and trains between Tel Aviv Hahagana and Jerusalem will not stop at Ben-Gurion Airport. Electrification work may cause disruption on other lines, and the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem line will be extended to Tel Aviv Savidor in the “coming weeks,” Israel Railways said.

The reopening of cultural events follows weeks of protests, with industry workers demanding assistance as they have been forced to remain closed for more than two months.

Although the current increase in coronavirus cases appears to be more gradual than the first wave, Israel has seen a rise in the number of serious patients over the past week. There are currently 36 patients in serious condition, including 29 who are intubated.

Prof. Eli Waxman, who headed the panel of experts advising the National Security Council during the first wave of COVID-19, told The Jerusalem Post that while the number of serious people in intensive-care units is low, “it is the fraction we would expect.”

“For every 400 new people, we expect two or three new ICU patients with a delay of about a week, and this is what we see,” he said. “The numbers are not surprising.”

On Wednesday, the Health Ministry reported that a patient who had been traveling on an Israir rescue flight from Belgrade to Israel tested positive for coronavirus. The flight took place on June 11, and all people who were in contact with the traveler have been notified.

OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Hertzi Halevi entered quarantine on Wednesday after he was present at an operational meeting last week in which a representative of the Defense Ministry who was infected with coronavirus participated.

OC Gaza Division Brig.-Gen. Eliezer Toledano and OC 80th Division Brig.-Gen. Gur Schriebmann, who also were at the meeting, entered quarantine as well.
At the same time, the Education Ministry reported that there were 654 students and faculty members sick with the virus and 23,442 in isolation. Moreover, 177 schools are currently closed.

As reported by The Jerusalem Post