Israeli authorities sealed off the Arab towns of Deir al-Asad and al-Baneh in the northern Galilee region on Saturday morning for a week of tight restrictions, after “drive-thru” testing facilities revealed a number of coronavirus cases in the area.
Confirmed cases of the virus in Deir al-Asad has increased by 589 percent in three days, according to a statement of the Ministry of Health on Saturday.
The nearby Jewish-majority town of Karmiel had on Monday installed a mobile “drive-thru” testing center, which is thought to have revealed a number of confirmed infections among residents of the neighboring Arab towns.
— Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian (@manniefabian) April 15, 2020
Confirmed cases of coronavirus in Deir al-Asad reached 71 on Saturday, an almost six-fold increase since Wednesday.
The town of around 12,400 inhabitants now has the seventh-highest coronavirus infection rate among the country’s communities of over 5,000 people. However, none of the towns with higher infection rates have been placed under lockdown.
Meanwhile, confirmed cases in al-Baneh, which has around 8,300 residents, stood at nine but is expected to rise.
— @palestinechron (@PalestineChron) April 16, 2020
The lockdown bars all entry and exit in and out of the towns, which constitute a single municipality, apart from exceptional cases and emergencies, Israeli media reported.
The Home Front Command of the Israeli military will distribute food and other necessities and services to the residents, according to the health ministry.
Videos circulated social media of patrols in Deir al-Asad, telling residents to stay at home and avoid gatherings.
— @palestinechron (@PalestineChron) April 11, 2020
Palestinian communities in Israel have so far experienced low levels of coronavirus infection, however, they have complained about the low level of testing being done in Arab areas.
Meanwhile, in the Palestinian territories, where testing capability is significantly diminished, six new cases were confirmed this morning in the West Bank, raising the total in Palestine to 319, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.
(Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, PC, Social Media)