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March 18, 2020 7:38 am

Israel’s Confirmed Coronavirus Cases Jump by 40 Percent in 24 Hours

avatar by Reuters and Algemeiner Staff

Israeli Health Ministry inspectors put on protective gear before they go up to the apartment of a person in self-quarantine as a precaution against coronavirus spread in Hadera, March 16, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Ronen Zvulun.

Confirmed coronavirus cases in Israel have jumped by 40% to 427 in the past 24 hours, the Health Ministry said on Wednesday, predicting a steeper rise as mass testing is implemented.

The Internal Security Ministry said compulsory closures, enforced by police, could soon be imposed across the country.

“We will reach a situation in which there are many hundreds of new patients each day, and possibly more,” Moshe Bar Siman Tov, the Health Ministry’s director-general, told Israel‘s Army Radio.

No fatalities have been reported in Israel, but a Health Ministry document seen by Reuters, dated March 17, informed medical and funeral staff of new regulations for handling anyone who dies as a result of coronavirus infection.

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These included decontaminating and hermetically wrapping bodies in double layers of polyethylene. For Jewish dead, ritual washing of the body would be conducted in one of four special stations in the country, the document showed.

Such measures would bee a departure from standard Jewish rites in Israel, where the body is ritually washed by a local burial society and generally wrapped only in a cloth smock and shroud.

Having urged Israelis to stay home and approved cyber-monitoring of their movements to reduce infection risks, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at least 3,000 coronavirus tests would be conducted daily.

Among planned means for that are drive-through testing stations in Tel Aviv and elsewhere.

“I am glad that we have not yet lost anyone. But that will not continue to be the case,” Netanyahu said in a televised statement on Tuesday.

An official of Hevra Kadisha, a national group that provides Jewish burial services, said contingency plans existed for mass burials in the event of a major catastrophe, such as an earthquake.

“But we are not there, nor should we expect to be. Such events would have tens of thousands of deceased, and that is not what is being anticipated now,” the official told Reuters.

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