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Deaths from the coronovirus in Israel have risen to 37. There are currently over 7,030 people known to be infected with the virus, 95 of whom are on ventilators. At least 357 patients have recovered.
The government has decided to lockdown the city Bnei Brak – a center of ultra-Orthodox Judaism – as the number of infected has surpassed 1,000 and continues to rise. IDF Border Police set up barricades and roadblocks to enforce the lockdown, allowing people to leave the city for medical reasons only. The government ordered the evacuation of around 4,500 people aged 80 and over from Bnei Brak to a hotel outside of the city.
Medical experts estimate that as many as 38% of Bnei Brak’s 200,000 residents are infected with coronavirus and that the city could soon account for as many as 30% of cases in Israel’s 8.7 million population. This is primarily due to Bnei Brak’s population density, which officials say is almost 100 times higher than the national average, and because many residents ignored the social distancing regulations.
Health Minister Yaakov Litzman (71) and his wife were diagnosed with coronavirus and are in isolation. PM Netanyahu and other senior officials, including the head of the Mossad, are also isolating as a result of having been in contact with Litzman.
Litzman, who is ultra-Orthodox, reportedly prayed at a synagogue with a minyan on March 28, three days after the Health Ministry’s directive that “no person should pray in a place other than his place of residence unless prayers are being conducted in an open space.” Testimony by residents in the haredi neighborhood in which Litzman lives suggests he violated the directives several other times.
Moreover, when the Knesset was being sworn in three weeks ago, Litzman was the only one who refused to have his temperature taken before entering the building.
Litzman denied all of the allegations.