With over 2,666 infected cases and eight deaths in the country, the government in Israel has moved its base to the Jerusalem-based underground bunkers, originally constructed to provide protection in the event of a nuclear attack on the country.

The global pandemic has so far infected over 510,000 people and killed nearly 23,000. Barring Antarctica, COVID-19, which originated from China's Wuhan province has spread to every continent in the world.

Israel government to hold cabinet meetings in the bunker

Coronavirus status as of 26 March, 2020
Coronavirus status as of 26 March, 2020 GISAID

The Jerusalem based underground bunker, which was built ten years ago, was constructed in anticipation of a nuclear attack either from Iran or a missile attack from Lebanon. According to Breaking Israel News, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that cabinet meetings in future will be conducted in the underground bunker, called National Management Centre.

The bunker, constructed in the hills, comes completed with a living-quarters, command facilities, and direct access to the government buildings in Jerusalem. An Israeli official told Reuters: "This [bunker] is another tool for managing, controlling, oversight and tracking. We understand that this crisis will accompany us for an extended period of time yet."

Government ministers downplay the role of nuclear bunker

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It was in 2018 when the bunker was used to hold weekly cabinet meetings after Israel launched a volley of airstrike in Syria. The bunker was constructed at a cost of $240 million and has a guarded tunnel entrance which allows the movement of trucks However, downplaying the role of bunker in wake of coronavirus pandemic, Defense Minister Naftali Bennett while addressing a news conference, told an Israel Radio: "The bunker is not so relevant [to the crisis]. We are not under a missile attack that would require us to be underground."

During an interview with Tel Aviv radio station 102 FM, Israel's energy minister said: "The bunker had limited usefulness in the current crisis as it protects from bombs, but not from microbes." In their bid to nip the spread of the virus in the country, the Israeli Health Ministry has banned all kinds of social gatherings including the communal prayers.

It has also ordered the closure of all non-essential businesses. The guidelines also restrict the movement of its citizens by 100 metres from their homes, apart from those who have to move out to buy essential commodities or medical care.