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Israel sees Covid-19 resurgence after restrictions eased

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JERUSALEM (XINHUA) – The number of new Covid-19 cases in Israel has risen to the highest rate since early April, and a key question that concerns many Israelis is whether restrictions will be reimposed soon.

The Israeli Health Ministry reported 10,235 new Covid-19 cases on Monday (June 20), the highest figure since April 1, while the number of active cases stands at 57,769, the highest since April 19.

Professor Eyal Leshem, a senior infectious disease specialist at Sheba Medical Centre, Israel’s largest hospital, told Xinhua that the recent increase in morbidity was probably caused by more than one factor.

“There are almost no restrictions, so masks are not used, schools and businesses are completely open, and there is a wide infection in the community,” he explained.

“Second, probably many thousands of people, asymptomatic or with mild symptoms, were not diagnosed, and are therefore not in quarantine and can infect others.”

Prof Leshem estimated that the increase in morbidity in Israel will continue in the coming weeks because the reproduction number indicator is still above 1.

Following the rise in morbidity, the ministry announced convened its panel of experts on Tuesday to discuss ways to curb a new Covid-19 wave spreading in the country.

In the last discussion held by the panel earlier this month, the experts decided not to recommend the government’s new restrictions and a fifth dose vaccination campaign, but at the same time suggested wearing masks indoors, especially for gatherings.

However, even if the panel recommends new restrictions this week, it is not certain that the current government will approve them, as its policy is trying to avoid imposing restrictions as much as possible and maintain the routine of life and economy.

Ms Daphna Liel, a senior political analyst at Israel’s Channel 12 TV news, told Xinhua that “the government understands that if restrictions are imposed, it will be very difficult to enforce them”.

Mr Gad Lior, a senior economic analyst for Yedioth Ahronoth daily newspaper, explained to Xinhua that preventing lockdowns during the past 16 months has led to a restoration of full activity in the Israeli economy, including the return of foreign tourists.

However, he warned that an increase in the number of people in quarantine is already causing some disruption to economic activity in some sectors in Israel.

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