(JNS) The 24-hour period from midnight on Friday to midnight on Saturday saw another 1,147 new confirmed coronavirus cases in Israel. More than two-thirds (67 percent) of new cases were confirmed in people aged 0-39. Only 8 percent of new cases were reported in people 60 and above, the highest-risk age group.
On Saturday, the number of COVID-19 tests that were processed reached 17,587, bringing the total since the start of the pandemic to 1,178,447.
As of Sunday morning, the third day of neighborhood closures in some cities, the number of new cases was doubling at a rate of once every 18 days, compared to 16 days at the end of last week.
A total of 132 COVID-19 patients were in serious condition as of Sunday, when the number of active cases stood at 18,940, and the death toll since the start of the first wave had reached 358. A total of 18,915 Israelis have recovered from the coronavirus.
Clashes erupted in Jerusalem’s Romema and Kiryat Belz neighborhoods on Saturday night, with residents rioting, throwing eggs, rocks and other objects at police, and breaking down police barriers set up to enforce the closure. Ten rioters were arrested.
There was also concern about possible rioting in Bnei Brak, where a large police contingent is employed, and where a broad closure might soon be declared. Bnei Brak residents are also criticizing the authorities for failing to evacuate confirmed coronavirus cases fast enough to keep them from spreading the virus.
Ine Bnei Brak resident said, “People here are very careful about wearing masks and social distancing, but without the authorities and the Homefront Command, it will be difficult.”
The closures were announced for neighborhoods that are seeing particularly large numbers of new coronavirus cases. Many residents feel that they are being discriminated against by the authorities.
Lod resident Moshe Rahminov said “there are cities like Rishon Letzion, Ra’anana, even Tel Aviv … did anyone close them down? No! They choose cities or neighborhoods with mixed populations or a mediocre or lower socioeconomic status and close them down. It’s easier,” he said.
However, one resident of Ramle said on Friday—shortly before access to and from his neighborhood, as well as activities within its borders, came under restriction—that “everyone is at fault.”
“The average Israeli doesn’t care that he wasn’t following instructions. People didn’t do anything to prevent infection. The authorities tweeted that there was ‘enforcement,’ but no one was careful about anything, and even the government didn’t do a thing in the two months between the first wave and the second,” he said.
Shorten epidemiological time period for patients
Over the weekend, the Health Ministry issued new regulations designed to reduce the number of Israelis ordered to self-quarantine.
According to the revised instructions, the time frame for epidemiological research into people who might have come into contact with a confirmed coronavirus carrier will only go back four to 10 days into the confirmed patient’s movements, rather than the previous 14 days.
When it comes to coronavirus patients who can pinpoint when their symptoms first appeared, epidemiological research will attempt to locate everyone with whom they came in contact in the four days prior to becoming symptomatic. For patients who cannot identify when their symptoms first appeared, research will attempt to locate everyone with whom they came in contact in the 10 days prior to testing positive for the virus.
However, the period of quarantine itself will remain at 14 days, noted the ministry.
“Given the information collected thus far, which indicated that the time frame for infection is some 48 hours prior to the appearance of symptoms—when the symptoms are not specific to coronavirus, and the exact time they appeared cannot be determined—a decision has been taken to shorten the epidemiological time period for COVID-19 patients,” said the outgoing head of the ministry’s Public Health Service, Professor Siegal Sadetzki.
Sadetzki explained that shortening the epidemiological time frame could exempt “many people” from mandatory quarantine.
The ministry also said that shortening the time frame for researching possible contacts could allow epidemiological researchers to focus on contacts at higher risk of testing positive for coronavirus.
Dan Lavie contributed to this report, which first appeared in Israel Hayom.