Israel Faces Night-time Curfew

Israel’s Coronavirus Cabinet decided on Monday evening that the country should introduce a night-time curfew beginning on Wednesday. The government now needs to confirm whether they will go ahead with that recommendation.

Essential services will remain open during the curfew. Shopping centres and marketplaces will probably be allowed to stay open during the daytime, outside of cities categorised as ‘red zones’ due to high numbers of infections.

Israeli police set up checkpointIsraeli police setting up a virus checkpoint earlier in the year (photo : MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

This move comes as Israel recorded its highest daily rise in virus cases since October. On Monday, 67,081 tests revealed a contagion rate of 2.8%, bringing the total number of patients currently battling the disease to 13,949. Of those patients, 315 are said to be in a serious condition, with 107 supported with ventilators.

In a separate report, the Times of Israel revealed that the pandemic is plunging Israelis into depression. A recent study indicates that a third of Israelis have high anxiety and a fifth have high levels of depression, with young adults being hit hardest.

Researchers from Tel Aviv University say that Israelis’ normal ability to overcome a crisis is absent and that there has been “severe damage to the public’s mental resilience.”

Clearly that is not a problem confined to Israelis. Consequently, their research is attracting international interest from psychologists who see it as relevant way beyond Israel. It is one of the few studies to monitor the mental health of hundreds of people before and during the pandemic.

Surprisingly, the research found that physical health is a relatively small concern, with just 5% of the 804-strong sample thinking it is the biggest threat. In contrast, 30% feel the biggest threat is political instability and 20% think it is financial difficulty.

UPDATE 9th December

The international nature of this problem is confirmed by a survey carried out for the National Union of Students in the UK. More than half of the 4,241 students who responded said their mental health had deteriorated since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Many of them said they have suffered stress, loneliness, anxiety and depression. With most face-to-face teaching and social events cancelled, the reduced interaction with others has resulted in some students living completely alone.

The loneliness of isolation appears to have had a huge impact on their mood and wellbeing. Yet only one fifth of those surveyed had sought support for their mental health.

This problem represents a huge challenge for the world as it continues to grapple with COVID-19.

Additionally, Israel’s ‘Coronavirus Cabinet’ changed its mind on Tuesday evening, giving up the idea of a night-time curfew after it was opposed by a number of legal challenges. They voted instead to reopen shopping centres across Israel from Wednesday morning.

Businesses that reopen will be subject to social-distancing restrictions to limit overcrowding, and computerised systems will be installed to monitor the customer numbers.