Israel and Azerbaijan Fight COVID-19

  • Azerbaijan and Israel are both secular, democratic nations.
  • Their populations are 10,000,000; 80% of their populations is either Muslim or Jewish.
  • Israel has started to return to normalcy, with students returning to school.

As of Sunday, the Republic of Azerbaijan has 1,932 cases of coronavirus and 25 deaths. An additional 1,441 have recovered from the disease. Israel has 16,193 infected cases, 9,634 recovered and 230 deaths. Israel, like Azerbaijan, noticed the danger of the spread of Coronavirus earlier than other nations.

Muslims pray individually in East Jerusalem.

The nation of Azerbaijan is located in the South Causcasis region of Eurasia, at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia.  It proclaimed independence in 1918, and became the world’s first secular, democratic, Muslim state.  In 1920, Azerbaijan was incorporated into the Soviet Union. 

Around 97% of the population is Muslim, with an estimated 85% of that Shia and 15% Sunni. The Constitution of the republic does not declare an official religion, and all major political parties are secular. The population is estimated at 10,000,000.

Azerbaijan took the threat of the Coronavirus seriously. On March 31, it announced a nationwide lockdown and curfew. All of its citizens could go out of their homes to supermarkets, pharmacies and their medical needs. All stores were closed, including entertainment centers, museums, cinemas, and hairdressers. All gatherings, weddings, and parties were banned.

Even before March 31, from March 2, Azerbaijan began to take actions against the spread of Coronavirus. On Mach 2, educational processes were suspended. On March 4, it stopped letting trucks and imports into the country from Iran. The first cases were from people arriving in the country from Iran.

In Israel, most of the infections came through the airports from the USA and Europe, after Israel had closed its borders to China and the Asian nations.  The first case of Coronavirus was discovered in Israel on Feb 21.  The patient was on the Diamond Princess cruise ship from Japan.

On February 26, Israel issued a travel warning to Italy, and urged the cancelling of all travel abroad. On March 9, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared a mandatory quarantine for all people entering Israel.  It was most difficult for Israel to close its borders to American citizens, and many American citizens who live in Israel have dual citizenship.

Israel is returning to normalcy, as one million students have returned to school.

Last month, some Yeshiva students, Israeli citizens, returned from America. Seventy of the 100 students were infected and required quarantine. The religious communities in Israel were celebrating the holiday of Purim and Passover, and did not take the orders of the Ministry of Health seriously. Their neighborhoods became infected in large numbers. The government took hold of their infected cities and made special lockdowns in these areas until all the infected people were located.

Israel, like Azerbaijan, is a secular, democratic nation with a religious heritage. Its population is about 10 million, like Azerbaijan, 80% of which are Jews. Among the population are various levels of religion, from Ultra-Orthodox to traditional to completely secular.  The nation celebrates religious Jewish holidays as vacation days, including the Sabbath.  

Azerbaijan and Israel have both reacted to the corona virus pandemic with success. Israel, on May 3, has sent over 1,000,000 students back to school.  Stores have been opened, but malls are still closed and public gatherings are still forbidden. Everyone is required to wear a mask on the street.  The stores supply gloves, and some stores are taking temperatures before entering.

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David Wexelman

Author of 5 books on the internet on topics of Jewish mysticism, managing two websites.

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