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World News

Israel hits 100,000 COVID-19 cases amid criticism of government response

A doctor takes part in a demonstration for Reuters of ongoing clinical trials led by Sheba Medical Center and Israeli firm Newsight Imaging, in which they say a newly developed saliva test aims to determine in less than a second whether or not you are infected with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at Tel Hashomer in Ramat Gan, Israel August 13, 2020. REUTERS/Ammar Awad

TEL AVIV (Reuters) - Israel officially reached a tally of more than 100,000 coronavirus cases on Friday as the government struggled to contain a resurgence in infection rates.

The latest daily tally showed 1,496 new cases, bringing the total number to 100,716, the health ministry said. Israel has reported 809 deaths among its 9 million population.

In May, Israel lifted a nationwide lockdown that had flattened an infection curve, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other officials celebrated as a success. Daily cases that numbered in the hundreds dropped to low double digits.

But a second surge of cases and ensuing restrictions have kept many Israelis out of work. Some restrictions have since been lifted to revive business activity, but unemployment still hovers at 21.5%.

Netanyahu’s government has come under fire by Israelis who have taken to the streets in near-daily demonstrations to demand better economic aid.

The protests have also focused on corruption allegations against Netanyahu, which the right-wing premier denies.

An August 5 poll from the Israel Democracy Institute found that only 25% of Israelis approve of Netanyahu’s handling of the pandemic, while some 58% identify with the protests against the government’s economic policies.

Reporting by Rami Ayyub; Editing by Angus MacSwan

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