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On Thursday, Israel tightened its coronavirus because it failed to reduce the world’s highest infection rate a week after it was shut down for the second time nationwide, AFP reported.

The new rules will close most workplaces, shutter markets and further restrict prayers and demonstrations.

“Saving lives is our priority – we are living in a moment of national crisis,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a televised press conference late Thursday.

“The state of Israel will overcome the epidemic and we will become stronger,” he added, without elaborating on all the steps taken by his government.

The move comes as Israel prepares to enter the second week of a three-week lockdown imposed last Friday, which included school closures and restrictions on work and leisure.

Under the new measures approved during the first reading in parliament on Thursday, only “necessary” work will be allowed from 2pm local time on Friday (1100 GMT) and only synagogues will be allowed on Sunday afternoon in Yom Kippur, where the Jewish holiday begins.

At other times only outdoor prayers with a maximum of 20 attendees will be allowed. The same restrictions have been imposed on protests.

The government said on Thursday that a decision would be made to close Ben Gurion International Airport outside Tel Aviv.

“To save the lives of Israeli citizens, we now need a full lockdown for two weeks,” Netanyahu said earlier.

“It simply came to our notice then. The person who thinks that we can deal with an rampant epidemic as death and infection increase without harming the economy is wrong. “

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Israel has the world’s highest per capita coronavirus infection rate in the last fortnight – more than 200,000 infections out of a population of nine million, according to AFP estimates.

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