Israel announces nationwide coronavirus lockdown

Israel announces nationwide coronavirus lockdown

Israel announced it will impose a nationwide lockdown from next week, its third of the Covid-19 pandemic, just days after it began vaccinations against the virus.

"A general lockdown will be imposed from 1700 on Sunday for two weeks," a statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said.

"There is an option to extend the lockdown for an additional two weeks, unless the basic reproduction number (for the virus) falls below one and the number of new cases per day falls below 1,000," AFP cited the statement as saying.

Israelis will be barred from travelling more than 1km from their homes and businesses will be closed except for deliveries. Exceptions will be made for those travelling for vaccinations, and schools will remain partially open for some age groups.

The new lockdown comes after a sharp rebound in the infection rate since the last lockdown in September, when the per capita infection rate was among the highest in the world.

In a population of 9 million, Israel has now confirmed 385,022 coronavirus cases, 3,150 of them fatal.

Israel launched a nationwide inoculation programme on Monday after receiving a first consignment of the vaccine developed by U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech.