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March 17, 2020 9:49 am

As Coronavirus Cases Grow, Israel Considers a Total Nationwide Lockdown

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A stockmarket ticker screen in the lobby of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, in the center of Tel Aviv, March 15, 2020. Photo: Flash90. – Israel’s Ministry of Health reported 48 new cases of coronavirus on Monday, bringing the total to 298. A top health official said the government was considering a general lockdown.

“We may ask people to leave the house less and only for necessary errands. The government is considering a general closure on all citizens, and if that happens, it would mean all age groups will be asked to stay home until further notice,” said Health Ministry Deputy Director-General Itamar Grotto, according to a Ynet report.

“We’re preparing now for hospitals to be able to contain the coronavirus patients who will need treatment, and most of the less urgent patients will be hospitalized at home unless it is impossible due to socioeconomic or familial reasons,” said Grotto.

Separately on Monday, the shekel suffered a significant loss, with a rate at 3.76 shekels to one US dollar.

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In reaction to the drop, Israel’s central bank moved to add hundreds of millions of dollars of liquidity.

“Because of dollar liquidity problems in the currency markets both around world and in Israel, we started supplying short-term liquidity to return the markets to being fully functional,” Bank of Israel Deputy Governor Andrew Abir told Reuters. 

Tel Aviv shares on the indices TA35 and TA125 dropped 7 percent on Monday.

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