The Bedouin town of Hura in the Negev exited a lockdown on Monday night despite pleas by the mayor of the town, the Health Ministry and Israel Police to extend the lockdown and the fact that the town continues to have the highest coronavirus case doubling rate in the country (2.95).
The town of 22,000 residents was declared as a Red Zone, meaning that it must be put under lockdown in order to prevent the spread of the virus to other locations.
123 residents of Hura have been confirmed as infected with the coronavirus as of Tuesday morning and 724 out of every 100,000 residents is infected. The number of confirmed infections rose by 19.4% in the past three days. In comparison, Beit Shemesh, where a number of neighborhoods were also under lockdown recently, had a 1.1% rise in the number of confirmed infections in the same period.
A meeting of a government committee yesterday neglected to vote on extending the lockdown on Hura, even though the lockdown was meant to be extended for an additional two weeks.
"Even though this is the most severe epicenter of the outbreak in Israel, the government 'forgot' yesterday to approve the extension of the lockdown on Hura, the Bedouin town next to Beersheba, for two more weeks, and the lockdown accidentally ended," said an official source from the regional council to Channel 12 news. "The residents returned to routine."
The commander of the southern district of Israel Police, Yoram Sofer, instructed police to remain in the area and to continue intensive educational campaigns about the virus despite the end of the lockdown, but police no longer have the right to enforce any form of lockdown in the town.The lifting of the lockdown comes as the government removes and plans to remove a number of the regulations that were put into place to stop the spread of the coronavirus, including the opening of malls planned for Thursday.
"The situation in Hura is very worrying, the exceptional infection rate, together with the way of life, lack of information and the fact that many of the residents of Hura work in Beersheba and move around in [the city] raises a concern that this epicenter may become even more significant in the entire south," warned a Health Ministry source to Channel 12. "We don't even have enough information and that which we do have is very worrying. This is the most disturbing infection epicenter in Israel today."
The Health Ministry source told Channel 12 that many residents who have symptoms are not going to get tested as culturally they believe that have the virus is "shameful." The Ministry also has information on residents of Hura who were infected who traveled to other cities including Rahat and Beersheba and may infect other people there.
The lockdown on Hura was implemented about a week ago due to a high infection rate in the town. A wedding with a large number of guests that took place against Health Ministry regulations has been blamed for the outbreak.