The were at least 3,506 new coronavirus infections diagnosed on Tuesday, in one of the highest figures for fresh cases detected in Israel in a 24-hour period.
The number, published mid-morning Wednesday by the Health Ministry, was just short of the record for daily cases, set the day before at 3,514. It took the total number of active patients past 30,000 for the first time.
The figures came as 40 towns and neighborhoods across the country awoke after their first overnight curfew, ordered by the government in an effort to slow the virus spread in areas with high infection rates.
There are 30,366 active patients in the country with COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Of those, 472 are in serious condition, with 140 on ventilators. An additional 169 patients have moderate symptoms and the rest show light or no symptoms, according to the ministry figures.
The death toll rose to 1,048 after five people died since midnight Tuesday. Ten people died during the day before.
A total of 44,546 virus tests were conducted on Tuesday, one of the highest numbers since the pandemic began. Laboratories processed 43,288 tests in all, with 8.1 percent returning positive, indicating a virus infection.
So far 139,013 people have been diagnosed with the virus in Israel, of whom 107,599 have recovered.
On Tuesday the cabinet approved evening curfews in dozens of towns and neighborhoods throughout the country.
The new rules, which will close schools and most businesses, will last for a week before being reconsidered by the cabinet.
The curfew, lasting from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m., targets nightlife activities, from bars and restaurants to the traditional slichot prayer gatherings held ahead of the Rosh Hashanah holiday, which falls on September 18 this year.
Most of the municipalities affected are among the poorest in Israel, with Arab and ultra-Orthodox towns making up much of the list. Some 1.3 million Israelis were covered by the curfew, according to a Channel 12 tally.
Health officials say ultra-Orthodox and Arab locales have seen the most major outbreaks nationwide.
Some local leaders protested the inclusion of their municipalities in the list of cities requiring a curfew.
“The rate of morbidity in the ‘red’ cities in Israel is among the highest in the world,” government coronavirus czar Ronni Gamzu said in comments aired on television as the curfew went into effect.
“Even the rates in ‘green’ cities [those with the lowest infection rates] are high. We must act to protect our people,” he urged.
A list of activities permitted in the “red” zones under curfew was set out by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit and published Tuesday by the Health Ministry.
The rules stipulate that, during curfew hours, residents keep within 500 meters of their homes, except for certain reasons, and non-essential businesses remain closed. Schools will be closed at all times, except for special needs programs.
During the curfew, businesses will not be allowed to open apart from those designated as essential, which are food stores (not including restaurants), pharmacies, opticians’ shops, shops whose main business is selling hygiene products, and businesses that repair phones and computers.
Gamzu, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein, and several other senior officials entered quarantine on Tuesday after a staff member in the government’s COVID-19 task force caught the coronavirus, the Health Ministry said.