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Former senior health official warns of ‘long’ winter lockdown as Israel reimposes Covid-19 restrictions amid uptick in new cases

Former senior health official warns of ‘long’ winter lockdown as Israel reimposes Covid-19 restrictions amid uptick in new cases
The former director-general of Israel’s Health Ministry has cautioned that the nation could face an extended lockdown next winter, amid a surge in new coronavirus cases. The government has already reimposed some restrictions.

Professor Gabi Barbash predicted in a radio interview that a new wave of Covid-19 cases would coincide with the return of seasonal flu, requiring extreme measures to be reintroduced. 

“We are headed to a long lockdown in the coming winter,” he warned, according to local media. 

His remarks came hours after cabinet ministers decided to reimpose some restrictions in an effort to contain the virus. Restaurants and gyms will be shuttered starting Friday afternoon until further notice, although takeout and delivery will still be allowed, and professional athletes will be permitted to use training facilities. 

The new measures also ban gatherings of over 10 people indoors, and 20 outdoors. The rules will become more strict during weekends, when all shops and stores deemed non-essential will be prohibited from operating.

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Beaches will remain open for the time being, but the government is mulling the possibility of shutting down kindergartens, summer camps, and summer schools.

Israel recorded 1,814 new cases of coronavirus on Thursday. 585 Covid-positive patients are hospitalized, with 58 of them on ventilators, according to government figures. Three coronavirus-related deaths were recorded overnight, bringing the country’s total to 387. In total, 46,500 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in Israel. More than half have fully recovered.

According to the Health Ministry, three hospitals in the country are at or above capacity for coronavirus patients. 

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