Updated: 18 May 2020
Israel is now 19th in the list of countries worldwide for the number of coronavirus tests (57,731) per million people, well above the UK in 36th place with just 38,040.
Israel has fallen to 40th in the list of cases of coronavirus per million people (1,924). compared to the UK in 18th (3,592), but only 48th in the list of deaths per million people (31 per million) compared to the UK in 6th place with 511 deaths per million: a testament to the heroes of Magen David Adom and all those involved in the Israeli health system.
Meanwhile, Haifa company Pluristem Therapeutics has published very encouraging preliminary data showing a 100% success rate for its cell-therapy in treating Covid-19. We still seem to be a very long way for a worldwide solution but it is great to see Israel among the world leaders for medical research.
What about life in the disputed territories?
Cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority has been described as "excellent" by the United Nations. The West Bank and Gaza have slipped to 152nd in the number of cases per million people and 159th for the number of deaths, much better than Israel. As it is clear that they have largely escaped the pandemic, they have remained stable in 92nd place for the number of tests per million people.
Of course, it is not all good news. Tens of thousands of Palestinians usually work in Israel, but many have lost jobs due to the economic downturn while others fear transmitting coronavirus to their families and neighbours when they return to the West Bank.
This Passover was different to all other Passovers
This may have been the first time since the very first Passover more than 3000 years ago that Jews worldwide have been warned to stay indoors to avoid a plague. Of course, there have been localised events since then which have prevented families gathering together for seder meals but, as far as we know, nothing that has affected the entire Jewish community.
As with almost every country, there is a massive and delicate balancing act between, on the one hand, pressure for a lockdown to protect public health and the devastating economic effects that any shutdown brings. In Israel, there has been a reported disagreement between the Health Ministry and Finance Ministry as to how soon restrictions can be lifted.
Whither El Al?
An icon of Israel, the national airline has been badly hit by the pandemic. In a classic example of economics versus politics, it has been refused a $350 million loan by the government, which the airline claims it needs to survive.
TheThe CEO of the company, Gonen Usishkin, has warned of the consequences for Israel should the government allow El Al to collapse in his appeal to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
What about tourism?
In recent years, the Israeli tourism industry has been burgeoning, with a record 4.55 million tourists in 2019. Since the coronavirus outbreak began, the industry has collapsed.
In Eilat, whose location on the Red Sea makes it one of the country's most popular resorts, unemployment has reached 70% due to the devastation.
One thing the Tourism Ministry is promoting is virtual reality tours, such as those being pioneered by the Tower of David Museum.
Update 24 April
It was announced that a range of businesses will be allowed to open from Saturday evening, with strict rules on hygiene and social distancing still applying. This will include hairdressers: interestingly, the UK Government has announced that hairdressers in the UK may remain shut for six months.
As we all know, there is a shortage worldwide of PPE equipment. However, in Israel, web developer Yonatan Doron and the hundreds of volunteers he has enlisted have achieved sensational results in manufacturing equipment using 3D printers.
Update 1 May
Days after Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion called for the famous Mahane Yehuda market to re-open following the tragic death of a shopkeeper, it looks as though the Government will allow this from the start of next week.
Also re-opening from Sunday will be sports clubs as well as increased access to pools and beaches and an extension of evening bus services.
Less clear is whether kindergartens will be allowed to re-open. The Finance and Education Ministries are said to be keen for this to happen, but the Director-General of the Health Ministry Moshe Bar Siman Tov is said to oppose it.