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In first, number of serious Israeli COVID-19 patients passes 200

Health Ministry reports 1,569 new cases since midnight, bringing number of infections in Israel since the start of the pandemic to 44,188

A Magen David Adom paramedic swabs a person for COVID-19 at a drive-thru testing site in the central city of Lod on July 15, 2020. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)
A Magen David Adom paramedic swabs a person for COVID-19 at a drive-thru testing site in the central city of Lod on July 15, 2020. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

The number of Israelis in serious condition from COVID-19 continued to climb Wednesday, passing 200 for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

According to the latest Health Ministry figures, there were 23,823 active coronavirus cases in the country. They included 204 people in serious condition, of whom 57 were on ventilators. Another 104 people were in moderate condition and the rest had mild or no symptoms.

The death toll rose by three since midnight to 376, the ministry said.

Since midnight, the ministry said there were 1,569 new infections, bringing the national tally 44,188. So far, 19,989 people have recovered from the virus.

The ministry said 31,400 tests were conducted Tuesday, a day after Israel reached the 30,000 daily test milestone for the first time.

The continued rise in serious cases came as the country recorded a new high early Wednesday. During the first wave of the pandemic, the highest number of serious cases at any one time was 183, recorded on April 13.

Israel on Monday also saw a record number of infections recorded in a 24-hour period, with 1,718 new cases confirmed.

With the country struggling to put a lid on the current outbreak, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein warned Wednesday the government could reimpose a nationwide lockdown if immediate action isn’t taken to contain the virus.

Edelstein said “we are doing everything we can” to avoid a lockdown but warned it was a possibility if other steps to curb the outbreak don’t suffice.

“If there’s a medical miracle” and infection rates plummet, “maybe we won’t get to a lockdown,” he remarked during a press conference at Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem in Jerusalem.

Before resorting to a lockdown, Channel 12 news reported, the government could further limit gatherings to 10 people; close beaches, synagogues and yeshivas; reduce public transportation; and only allow restaurants to offer delivery, among other measures.

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