JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel on Tuesday began a week-long campaign of night curfews and school closures in dozens of towns and neighbourhoods with high coronavirus counts, hoping to stem a spike in cases as its public-health chiefs were quarantined for exposure.
Most of the 40 zones subject to the partial lockdowns are identified with Israeli Arabs or ultra-Orthodox Jews, minorities where crowding has helped spread the pandemic.
Israel, with a population of 9 million, has recorded 135,288 cases of the novel coronavirus and 1,031 deaths. The discovery that a worker at a Health Ministry project for combating the virus had contracted it prompted senior staff who had been exposed to him to self-isolate as a precaution.
These included the health minister, deputy health minister, the ministry's director-general, chief of staff and legal counsel, as well as two advisers and Israel's coronavirus commissioner, the ministry said.
Some government officials have called for a nationwide lockdown if the partial measures put into force on Tuesday fail. That could disrupt celebrations of the Jewish high holy days, which run from Sept. 18 to Oct. 10.
(Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Mike Collett-White and Grant McCool)