Israel’s second national lockdown is likely to last at least a month and perhaps much longer, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday, as the country’s soaring infection rate of around 8,000 confirmed new cases a day remained among the highest in the world.
“In my opinion, it won’t be less than a month, and it could take much more time,” Mr. Netanyahu said during a Facebook Live video session.
The lockdown came into effect this month, on the eve of the Jewish New Year holiday, and was tightened on Friday after Mr. Netanyahu warned that without immediate measures, Israel would “reach the edge of the abyss.” Israelis must remain within 1,000 meters of their homes unless they are going to authorized places of work or seeking essential supplies or services, and outdoor gatherings are limited to 20 people.
But synagogues were allowed to hold indoor prayers for limited numbers of worshipers during Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, which fell on Sunday night and Monday, and large gatherings of ultra-Orthodox worshipers were captured on video in several locations.
The number of seriously ill virus patients has surpassed 800, a number that government and health officials had long cited as the maximum that Israel’s hospitals could cope with in their current capacity.
Israel reported 243 virus deaths over the past week, according to a New York Times database. That works out to 2.7 per 100,000 people, one of the highest per capita death rates in the world.
In other developments around the world:
South Korea said on Wednesday that it would impose a fine of up to $85 on anyone caught without a mask in high-risk areas like outdoor gatherings and public transportation, starting on Oct. 13. As people in the country began on Wednesday to celebrate Chuseok, a major holiday that runs through the weekend, health officials reported 113 new cases, the highest daily tally in five days. Tens of millions of South Koreans are traveling for Chuseok and officials fear that holiday gatherings could create new vectors of infection.
Finland on Tuesday ordered bars and restaurants to close at 1 a.m. and to stop alcohol sales at midnight starting Oct. 8 to help contain the spread of the virus. Finland’s virus numbers have remained among the lowest in Europe for months but its public health authority said 149 new coronavirus cases had been reported on Tuesday, among the country’s highest daily numbers for several months. Finland has recorded nearly 10,000 cases of the virus and 345 deaths, according to a New York Times database.
Belgium has recorded more than 10,000 deaths from the coronavirus, one of the highest death tolls in Europe. In a country where paramedics and hospitals sometimes denied care to older people, more than half of the deaths in Belgium have been residents of nursing homes.
Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany warned citizens that infections will probably rise and called for vigilance. “I appeal to you all, follow the rules that will be in effect in the next while,” she said in a prepared speech during a budget debate. “We have a difficult time ahead of us with autumn and winter approaching.” Ms. Merkel and state governors agreed on Tuesday to lower ceilings on group gatherings and to fine bar and restaurant owners and other businesses who are lax about verifying patrons’ contact information. The country reported 1,798 new infections on Tuesday, more than its recent average of more than 1,600 a day. According to a New York Times Database, Germany has had a total of 289,219 reported cases and 9,488 deaths since the pandemic began.
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