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October 5, 2020 9:30 am

Netanyahu Cautions Against Relaxing COVID-19 Restrictions

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu adjust his mask during a statement as Israel imposes nightly curfews in dozens of towns and neighbourhoods to stem the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Beit Shemesh, Israel September 8, 2020. Photo: Alex Kolomoisky/Pool via REUTERS. – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that despite indications that Israel’s COVID-19 morbidity rate may be declining, at least 10 more days of lockdown were necessary to validate the trend.

“Now, there are those who are already saying that they are ‘cautiously optimistic’ that the lockdown is already starting to work, to ‘flatten the growth curve.’ I am more cautious than the cautious. I want to wait until at least 10 [more] days have passed,” he said.

According to Israeli Health Ministry data, of the 24,729 COVID-19 tests conducted on Sunday, 11.7 percent were positive, slightly up from Saturday’s figure, but still part of an overall downward trend during the past week. On Monday morning, there were 878 seriously ill COVID-19 patients in Israel, 215 of whom were on ventilators, and the overall death toll since the onset of the pandemic stood at 1,719.

The prime minister went on to say that decisions regarding the continuation of the lockdown, which began just before Rosh Hashanah, would only be made on Thursday.

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During Monday’s Cabinet meeting, the government would discuss “long-term coronavirus exit data, the transition from stage to stage, safeguarding the elderly population, larger fines and increased discipline and enforcement—because after all, our lives are at risk,” he said.

Netanyahu concluded by making a Sukkot holiday reference, saying, “I’m asking all of you to come together like the ‘four species’ for the good of our nation, for the good of all citizens of Israel, in the face of the global coronavirus pandemic—we will win.”

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