144 new virus cases found in Israel over past day, with record 16,000 tested
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9 cases found at Or Yehuda assisted living facility

144 new virus cases found in Israel over past day, with record 16,000 tested

One person dies as a result of the pathogen, taking toll to 292; 16,133 tests carried out on Friday, said to be highest daily number so far

Magen David Adom medical workers test residents of south Tel Aviv for the coronavirus on June 2, 2020. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Magen David Adom medical workers test residents of south Tel Aviv for the coronavirus on June 2, 2020. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

The Health Ministry on Saturday morning reported 144 new coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours, continuing the recent trend of rising infections.

One person died of COVID-19, taking the national death toll to 292. There were no details given on the identity of the fatality.

There have been 17,706 infections recorded in Israel since the start of the pandemic.

Among those who were sick, 29 were in serious condition, 23 of whom were on ventilators. Another 36 were in moderate condition and the rest had mild symptoms.

The Health Ministry also said 16,133 tests were carried on Friday, which the Ynet news site said was the highest daily total of the pandemic so far.

An official from the ministry said Tuesday that Israel now has the capacity to carry out up to 40,000 tests per day after new deals were signed with two testing labs.

Cleaning workers disinfect a classroom at the Gymnasia Rehavia high school in Jerusalem on June 3, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Channel 13 news reported Saturday that the new cases included nine residents and staff members at the Ahuzat Eyal assisted living facility in the central city of Or Yehuda. At the height of the outbreak, the novel coronavirus spread quickly in nursing homes around the country, where it was responsible for around a third of the national death toll.

As the number of new cases rose on Friday, the number of schools shuttered due to students contracting the virus also went up.

According to the Education Ministry, 92 schools and daycares have now been closed to stem the spread of the virus, up from 87 Thursday evening.

The ministry said 304 students and teachers have tested positive for COVID-19 during the fresh outbreak, with another 13,702 people in quarantine because of potential exposure to the virus.

The latest closures came two days after the government said it would leave schools open but use targeted closures anywhere a coronavirus case is found to help stem the recent spike in infections. Though classes resumed after two months of closures, students and teachers are required to wear face masks and are supposed to keep to strict hygiene practices.

Israeli schools began reopening in stages last month. On May 3, the first day of classes, just 60 percent of eligible students attended, a number that later increased before dropping in the wake of the current surge in COVID-19 cases.

The Health Ministry, which has reportedly been pushing to reintroduce a nationwide closure of schools, says the rising number of infections among students is the primary factor in Israel’s recent spike in cases.

A Magen David Adom medical worker takes a sample at drive-through coronavirus testing site in Jerusalem on May 31, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The jump in new cases came after the daily infection rate steadily dropped through much of May, with Israel easing restrictions on movement, economic activity and gatherings that were put in place to contain the virus.

Also Friday, cabinet secretary Tzachi Braverman announced that ministers interested in doing so can be tested for COVID-19 following Sunday’s cabinet meeting, apparently due to potential infection fears after a Knesset member was diagnosed with the virus this week.

Testing will only be offered to ministers and not their aides, according to Channel 12 news.

MK Sami Abou Shahadeh of the Joint List announced Thursday that he had tested positive for the virus, forcing the Knesset to suspend most activities Thursday.

Joint List MK Sami Abou Shahadeh (Screen capture: YouTube)

Hundreds of staff members at the Knesset were told not to come to work unless necessary, and committee meetings and other activities planned for the rest of the week were canceled.

Abou Shahadeh, 44, entered quarantine two days ago after his driver was diagnosed with the pathogen.

Authorities were checking who Abou Shahadeh may have come into contact with while he was at the Knesset.

In an interview with the Kan public broadcaster, Abou Shahadeh said he had been in contact with thousands of people.

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