The reporters, who attended Tuesday’s signing ceremony on the South Lawn for agreements to normalize relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, followed strict health protocols. An Israeli government official said the decision to quarantine them did not result from any specific notice of cases at the White House.
But Health Ministry officials watching the ceremony back in Israel — which featured hundreds of attendees, many of them maskless, sitting and mingling at close quarters — believed it to be obviously unsafe and were “pissed,” according to an Israeli government official.
One Israeli reporter who attended the event posted a video on Twitter showing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaking just inches away from Israel’s Mossad chief, Yossi Cohen. Neither man wore a mask.
The number of cases in Israel, when adjusted for population, have risen to among the highest in the world. The government has mandated a second, nationwide lockdown to begin Friday afternoon, hours before the eve of the Jewish New Year holiday, and to last at least three weeks, extending to the last day of Yom Kippur and the festival Sukkot. The Jerusalem Great Synagogue, the venerable institution where Israeli prime ministers and presidents have prayed, announced on its website on Wednesday that it would remain shuttered over the Jewish high holidays for the first time in its more than half-century of history.
In other developments around the world:
India’s overall caseload surpassed five million on Tuesday, less than a month after hitting the three million mark. More than 82,000 people have died from the coronavirus in India, but, per capita, the country has had far fewer deaths than many others. Doctors say this reflects India’s younger and leaner population.
A health official from Madrid’s regional government warned that the capital was preparing to impose “selective lockdowns” in districts where the number of cases has recently risen significantly. The minister, Antonio Zapatero, said that the region needed “to flatten the curve” urgently, before the arrival of colder weather that could help spread the virus faster. Spain registered an average of 8,000 new cases a day over the past week, about a third of them in Madrid.
Six months after locking down the country to curb the spread of the virus, Nepal is starting to welcome back trekkers and mountaineers. The decision is aimed at reviving the country’s ailing economy, which is heavily dependent on mountain tourism. Trekkers visiting Nepal will be required to produce documentation showing that they tested negative before flying in, and to quarantine before traveling to tourist destinations. The country has reported nearly 60,000 cases, or 208 per 100,000 people, and less than 400 deaths.
Reporting was contributed by Peter Baker, Alan Blinder, Luke Broadwater, Emily Cochrane, Michael Corkery, Michael Crowley, Melissa Eddy, Rick Gladstone, David Halbfinger, Anemona Hartocollis, Mike Ives, Isabel Kershner, Andrew E. Kramer, Gina Kolata, Sapna Maheshwari, Patricia Mazzei, Raphael Minder, Benjamin Mueller, Richard C. Paddock, Linda Qiu, Gretchen Reynolds, Dana Rubinstein, Eliza Shapiro, Bhadra Shrama, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Glenn Thrush, Marc Tracy, Noah Weiland and Sameer Yasir.