Coronavirus: Police issue nearly 3,000 tickets for breaking restrictions

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On New Year, country tops 600 coronavirus patients in serious condition

People protest lockdown on a Tel Aviv beach on September 19, 2020. (photo credit: AVRAHAM SASSONI)

People protest lockdown on a Tel Aviv beach on September 19, 2020.

(photo credit: AVRAHAM SASSONI)

With the country under lockdown and the streets quiet except for the sounds of prayers – hopefully in capsules and according to regulations – the Health Ministry released the first set of coronavirus numbers on Saturday: 5,299 new diagnoses on Friday, plus another 1,616 since midnight on Saturday.

Israel hit another peak: 604 people in serious condition, including 165 who were intubated. A separate report published Sunday by the Coronavirus National Information and Knowledge Center, which is overseen by the IDF, showed some 1,261 patients were being treated in the hospital – also a new record.

The death toll also increased over the holiday to 1,226, the Health Ministry showed. More than 900 of the people who died from coronavirus have died since July 1.

On average, six people died per day from the virus in Israel in July, compared to 14 in the month of September. Israel’s mortality rate is rising compared to other countries – after being among the lowest during most of the crisis. The rate of deaths from coronavirus per million inhabitants stands at 133, compared to the global average of 123.3.

The coronavirus cabinet is expected convene on Monday after the holiday to discuss imposing more severe restrictions, given the high morbidity rate. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s warned in his latest speech to the public on Thursday that “there will be no choice but to tighten the restrictions,” but that before making any changes to the current outline, he will discuss them with his fellow ministers.

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“I will not just impose a closure on the State of Israel [but] I will not hesitate to impose restrictions if necessary,” the prime minister said.

With the holiday underway, five of the country’s biggest hospitals are reporting that their coronavirus wards are full or overcapacity: Hadassah Medical Center (129%), Shaare Zedek (110%), Samson Assuta Ashdod University Medical Center (107%), Sheba Medical Center (100%) and Hadassah Mount Scopus (100%).

Two hospitals also showed that their internal medicine wards were overcapacity: Holy Family Hospital in Nazareth (152%) and Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot (101%).

Some 3,157 medical personnel were in isolation, the IDF showed, including 772 who had coronavirus.

The IDF report’s showed where Israel ranks in comparison to other countries: No. 16 in the world for cases per on million people (604). The United States ranked No. 1 at 14,084 cases per a million, India second (8,944) and Brazil third (8,318).

Despite the holiday, the Health Ministry reported a large number of people being tested. On Friday, it showed, some 53,993 people were screened for the novel virus. Nearly 20,000 more had been tested Saturday by 4:30 p.m. The IDF said an average of 44,576 people were tested per day in the last week.

A drive-in coronavirus testing center was established in a Druze village in the Western Galilee, where it appeared that the infection rate was high. Despite the Jewish holiday, the facility was expected to run from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday to help identify sick patients and put them into isolation.

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On the first day of the holiday, thousands of Israel Police remained deployed across the country, as well as hundreds of roadblocks. First reports indicated that despite loud protests by the public against the lockdown, people were staying at home.

Photos disseminated across social media and by the press showed empty streets.

Police said they gave out 629 tickets to people not wearing masks in public spaces on Saturday and 2,044 to people who broke the rule on traveling no more than one kilometer from home for a non-approved reason. In total, the police issued more than 2,800 tickets on Saturday.

There were a few exceptions to the quiet, of course. One exception was at the Tel Aviv beach front, where hundreds of people turned out to protest against the closure on Friday.

Protesting is legal according to the rules of the lockdown. However, just before the start of the holiday, the Health Ministry and the government released an outline for protests, which include people wearing masks and rioting in capsules of 20. However, the police said they would not yet be able to enforce the outline on Saturday night, as it has not yet been translated into regulations. That is expected to come this week.

“This is a demonstration against quarantine and against corruption,” one Tel Aviv protester, Oron, told N12. “The right to demonstrate has always existed.”

Another took place in Jerusalem, where dozens of protesters gathered for a “holiday meal” protest on Balfour Street, in front of the prime minister’s residence. The people ate together without masks.

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Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.

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