After decline in rate of new infections, Israel records biggest rise in a week

443 additional COVID-19 cases since Tuesday morning bring total to 14,326, with 187 fatalities; increase comes amid jump in number of tests performed daily

A worker checks the temperature of a customer before allowing him to enter a hardware store in Jerusalem on April 20, 2020, amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Emmanuel Dunand/AFP)
A worker checks the temperature of a customer before allowing him to enter a hardware store in Jerusalem on April 20, 2020, amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Emmanuel Dunand/AFP)

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Israel rose to 14,326 Wednesday morning, with three more fatalities recorded overnight from COVID-19, bringing the death toll to 187.

The 443 cases recorded over the past 24 hours was the biggest rise in new infections in a single day since April 15, but still fewer than the 608 people who recovered from the virus during the past day, continuing a trend that began last week.

It was unclear if the rise in new cases was connected to increased testing, with the Health Ministry announcing Tuesday it conducted a record 12,281 tests the day before.

One of the latest fatalities was a 95-year-old woman who died at Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba and who suffered from preexisting health conditions. Another was a 52-year-old woman at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem who also had preexisting conditions.

A Shaare Zedek Medical Center worker receives a coronavirus patient in Jerusalem on April 16, 2020. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

According to the Health Ministry’s latest figures, there were 148 people in serious condition, a four percent rise since Tuesday morning. Of those, 111 were on ventilators, a slight drop from the previous day.

Another 124 Israelis were in moderate condition and the rest had mild symptoms.

A total of 4,961 people in the country have now recovered from the virus.

The latest Health Ministry figures did not include a number for how many tests were performed Tuesday.

Monday’s testing total broke a record set last Thursday, when the Health Ministry said it conducted 11,908 tests. The three days that followed saw numbers between 9,419 and 10,038. Figures from that week have shown a sharp increase from a long period during which figures fell to between 6,000 and 7,000 tests per day.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has set a goal of 30,000 tests a day, but a shortage of a key reagent meant that Israel was struggling to approach 10,000.

A Magen David Adom paramedic performs a coronavirus test on an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man at a mobile testing station, in Jerusalem’s Geula neighborhood, on April 20, 2020. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

The growing number of recoveries, as well as the apparent slowing pace of new infections, has come as Israel began to experiment with rolling back virus restrictions and reopening the economy. However, officials have warned that restrictions could be put back in place if cases begin to rise again.

The cabinet was scheduled to vote on Wednesday morning to severely limit commemorations and celebrations of upcoming holidays, including Israel’s independence and memorial days and the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, in a bid to stem a fresh outbreak of the virus.

The Health Ministry said Wednesday it was beginning a public relations campaign for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins April 23.

People walk under lights decorating the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City on April 19, 2020, as Muslims around the world prepare for the holy Muslim month of Ramadan amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

The ministry said the campaign would call on those who observe Ramadan to only hold the prayers marking the end of the daily fast with those they live with and to only take part in the traditional iftar evening meal with them as well.

“This year we’re celebrating separately so that next year we can celebrate with family,” one of the messages was set to be, according to a Health Ministry statement.

Besides billboards, the campaign will also include ads on a number of Arabic-language news sites and social media, as well as the sending of text messages.

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