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Israel becomes first country to impose second coronavirus lockdown

AS THE World Health Organisaton announced a record global rise in coronavirus cases on Sunday — rising by 307,930 in 24 hours — Israel became the first country to impose a second lockdown.

The biggest increases were in India, the United States and Brazil, according to the health body; deaths rose by 5,537 to a total of 917,417.

India leads the way in new daily cases with a record 97,570 cases reported in a single day last week. The country has recorded a total of 4.75 million cases, second only to the US, where the tally stands at 6.5m.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the nationwide lockdown would start on Friday, the start of the Jewish New Year holiday period. Schools, shops and businesses will shut alongside restrictions on movements and gatherings.

Israel has reported almost 150,000 cases of coronavirus and more than 1,100 deaths, but new infections have recently risen to 4,000 per day.

“Our goal is to stop the increase [in cases] and lower morbidity,” Mr Netanyahu said in a televised address.

“I know that these steps come at a difficult price for all of us. This is not the holiday we are used to.”

Former health minister Yaakov Litzman, who represents ultra-orthodox Jews, has resigned from the government in protest at the restrictions, which will affect Yom Kippur prayers and other religious celebrations.

Mr Netanyahu has faced months of protest demanding his resignation over a series of corruption charges and anger over his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

After moving swiftly to impose lockdown, he has faced criticism for ending the measures too early in order to open up the country’s economy.

Financial payments to those in need have also been slow to arrive and unemployment has rocketed as the country plunged into recession.

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