Sept. 8 (UPI) -- Israel placed more than 40 cities under curfew and multiple health officials were asked told quarantine after the country reported 3,514 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday.
Coronavirus commissioner Ronni Gamzu said the cities ordered to enter curfew have among the highest morbidity rates in the world.
"I apologize wholeheartedly to all the cities that are currently in the process of being restricted," Gamzu said. "I apologize to the residents and the mayors. The coronavirus sometimes requires us to take unpleasant steps to maintain health. That is the only thing that guides me."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also stressed that the curfews are being implemented to halt the rise in coronavirus cases.
"I cannot say that it will bring about the decrease that we want; I can say that we are trying it," he said.
Gamzu as well as Israel's Health Minister Yuli Edelstein, his deputy Yoav Kisch, director general of the ministry Hezi Leavy and other senior members were asked to quarantine following contact with people who tested positive for COVID-19.
The Health Ministry also announced that Ayman Saif, the head of coronavirus efforts in Arab communities, had tested positive for coronavirus.
"I have initiated dozens of tours and field visits to 'red' cities and villages, where infection rates are high," Saif said. "The disease will not prevent me from continuing to fight for the eradication of the disease by all means and with all my might."