TEL AVIV

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday that exiting the lockdown imposed to stem the spread of coronavirus will be slow and gradual and could continue for an entire year.

The Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth quoted Netanyahu speaking in a meeting of the Coronavirus Cabinet, which leads the government’s response to the pandemic.

“Exiting the lockdown will be slow and gradual this time, and could last even half a year to a year,” the Israeli premier said.

“We will not repeat the rapid exit that we did in the first wave [of COVID-19],” he said.

Netanyahu called for preparing a plan to deal with 5,000 coronavirus patients in critical condition by winter.

According to the Israeli newspaper, since the onset of the pandemic in Israel, 243,895 Israelis have tested positive for the virus and 174,232 of them recovered. More than 1,500 have died.

*Bassel Barakat contributed to this report from Ankara

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