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As transmission rate rises above 1, virus czar says 4th lockdown a possibility

6 15 19

Israel could yet be forced to enter a fourth lockdown to combat the spread of the coronavirus ahead of the upcoming general election, set for March 23, a senior health official suggested on Friday.

He spoke as the country’s virus transmission rate inched passed 1, indicating the pandemic is once again expanding its spread, according to Health Ministry data.

“We are concerned about the increase in infection in the coming days,” coronavirus czar Nachman Ash told 103FM Radio, adding that “if we don’t act responsibly, and if [citizens] don’t follow the guidelines, the possibility of a fourth lockdown before the election exists.”

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Asked about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s statement to Fox News on Thursday that the pandemic was in Israel’s rearview mirror, Ash said: “I don’t know what the prime minister meant.” Shaare Zedek hospital team members wearing safety gear as they work in the Coronavirus ward of Shaare Zedek hospital in Jerusalem on February 3, 2021, during a 3rd nationawide full lockdown, in an effort to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Ministry figures showed the virus’s basic reproduction number, or R-number, was at 1.01 Friday morning. The R-number is the number of new cases stemming from each coronavirus infection, or the number of people who caught the virus from each infected person. Any number lower than 1 means the pandemic is slowing down, while a number above 1 means it is expanding. The figures are based on new case numbers from 10 days earlier due to the virus’s incubation period.

The R-number had been below 1 since late January.


© The Times of Israel

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