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Coronavirus digest: Israelis mark Yom Kippur under lockdown

  • September 27, 2020

Middle East

Thousands of protesters in Israel gathered outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s residence on Saturday night to demand his resignation, ignoring strict new lockdown rules. 

The Israeli leader had been accused of trying to stifle protests against him by introducing new regulations on demonstrations, however, these have not yet been agreed on by the Knesset.

The Jewish holiday Yom Kippur began on Sunday among tightened rules over social gatherings.

During the holiday, which lasts until Monday evening, hundreds of thousands of people usually go to synagogues to pray.

Netanyahu has urged people to pray outdoors instead due to infection risks, a call that has been echoed by rabbis, the Jerusalem Post reported.

In a message to the nation, Israel’s figurehead president, Reuven Rivlin, called on people to light a candle in memory of the more than 1,400 Israelis who have died from COVID-19.

Meanwhile, hundreds of ultra-Orthodox Jews have been ordered to be quarantined in their religious schools during the holiday after they got infected with the virus recently while praying together, the Haaretz newspaper reported.  

Israel, with a population of just 9 million, is reporting more than 7,000 new cases a day.

The border crossing between Gaza and Egypt reopened on Sunday, for just three days. The Palestinian enclave has been under lockdown for over one month in order to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. All those entering Egypt are required to provide evidence that they had tested negative for the virus.

Read more: Coronavirus makes ‘modern slaves’ of ship crews, UN told


Voters in Switzerland, Romania and parts of Germany headed to the polls on Sunday amid rising case numbers. The Swiss were asked to vote on an initiative to end freedom of movement with the European Union.

Romanians cast their ballots to decide on local mayors and councilors as infections of COVID-19 surge. However, President Klaus Iohannis claimed that voting posed “almost no risk” and “is not more dangerous than going shopping”.

In the German town of Hamm, in the state of North-Rhine Westphalia, where 2,757 people are in quarantine, local officials offered a special delivery service for Sunday’s local elections, according to Tagesschau.

Those stuck in quarantine could call a hotline in order to get their postal vote brought to them and then taken away again.

After several UK universities ordered students to self-isolate in their accommodation and attend lectures online, culture minister, Oliver Dowden, expressed his desire to Sky News that they will be able to return home for Christmas.

Some media reports suggested that students may have to remain in their university accommodation for the end of the year holidays as part of a widening of restrictions to curb the spread.

“We’re three months away from Christmas. We’ve announced a range of measures. We are constantly keeping this situation under review,” Dowden told the broadcaster.

Many students are angry at the new self-isolation rule, which was imposed just days after the new academic year began.

Thirty players and staff of Pogon Szczecin, a Polish top-flight football team, have tested positive for Covid-19, the club said in a statement on Sunday.

Among the infected are 21 players and two members of the coaching staff, the club said.

Dozens of tests were conducted among staff this week after several players displayed flu-like symptoms
earlier in the week. Those infected are in home quarantine, the club said.

In view of the positive tests, next week’s match has been postponed.

Read more: Coronavirus trend: The pandemic is far from over


Officials in the Australian city of Melbourne announced on Sunday that the overnight curfew would be lifted early Monday morning.

The curfew was imposed on August 6 and prohibited people from being outdoors between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. The announcement came as the number of active cases fell below 400 for the first time since June 30.


The number of cases in Argentina surpassed 700,000 on Saturday, reported Reuters on Sunday morning. The rolling seven-day average of new cases reached 11,082, placing the country fifth globally, behind India, the USA, France and Brazil, all countries with bigger populations.

Read more: Brazil: Rio postpones Carnival over coronavirus

ab/mm (AP, AFP, EFE, Reuters)

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