Health Ministry records 10 more virus deaths, 1,518 new cases in 24 hours

Death toll climbs to 546; testing remains lower than recent months, but higher than weekend

Healthcare workers take test samples of Israelis to check if they have been infected with the coronavirus, in Modiin Illit, on July 29, 2020. (Yossi Aloni/FLASH90)
Healthcare workers take test samples of Israelis to check if they have been infected with the coronavirus, in Modiin Illit, on July 29, 2020. (Yossi Aloni/FLASH90)

The Health Ministry on Monday evening logged 1,518 new COVID-19 cases in the previous 24 hours, and 10 deaths, marking a rise in both fresh diagnoses and testing, following a sharp downturn over the weekend.

According to the ministry, there are 26,005 active cases in the country. It said 331 people are in serious condition, 99 of them on ventilators. Another 139 are in moderate condition, with the rest displaying mild or no symptoms.

The 10 additional fatalities since Sunday evening brought the national death toll since the start of the pandemic to 546. The latest victims were not identified.

The ministry said 10,028 tests were conducted on Sunday, as testing figures continued to remain low after hovering around 30,000 in recent weeks.

Israelis wear protective face masks in Tel Aviv, on August 3, 2020. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

As of 7 p.m. Monday, the daily figures were up, with over 13,000 tests taken Monday. The number usually rises significantly by the end of the day.

The number of daily cases has hovered around 2,000 last week, before dipping over the weekend to several hundred, which appeared linked to the decline in testing levels over the weekend.

Israel had largely succeeded in containing the spread of the virus during the initial outbreak in March, with the number of new daily cases dropping to the low dozens by May. However, following the rollback of most restrictions in May, there was a surge in infections.

On Sunday, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said the number of cases was stabilizing.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that the growth rate in new coronavirus cases appeared to have leveled off, but cautioned it could pick up again and that there could be a jump in deaths from COVID-19.

Speaking at the start of the meeting of the coronavirus cabinet, he noted that Israel now has one of the highest morbidity rates per capita in the world. According to an Oxford University-based scientific publication, Israel currently has the eighth highest infection rate per capita.

“This is the bad news. The good news is that over the last two weeks or so, we have been on a plateau,” he was quoted as saying in a statement from his office.

Jerusalem residents, wearing face masks for fear of the coronavirus, walk on Jaffa road in the city center of Jerusalem, August 2, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/ Flash90)

Senior ministers on Monday discussed the possibility of localized lockdowns and curfews during nights and weekends to stem the spread of COVID-19, but ended a meeting of the so-called coronavirus cabinet without making new decisions on tackling the pandemic.

Coronavirus czar Ronni Gamzu will build a detailed plan by Wednesday’s meeting of the coronavirus cabinet, at which time the ministers will vote on a final decision.

The possibilities floated at the meeting ranged from local lockdowns in hotspots to nightly and weekend closures, according to Netanyahu.

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