The Health Ministry on Monday reported an additional 42 cases of the novel coronavirus in Israel, bringing the total number of confirmed infections up to 255.
The majority have light symptoms, while 13 are listed in moderate condition and five are seriously ill, the ministry said, adding that 8,325 tests have been carried out.
Another four people no longer display any symptoms and are recuperating, according to the ministry.
Tens of thousands more were in quarantine after either traveling to countries with high incidences of the virus or coming into contact with a carrier. The ministry said 50,337 were in self-isolation. Due to the relatively long time it takes for symptoms to develop, health officials believe that more people have contracted the virus, but haven’t yet been diagnosed.
The Israel Defense Forces said a fifth soldier has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
“An epidemiological study was conducted, and all those who were in close contact with him have been sent to home quarantine. Additional people who were in contact with him are being located now,” the military said.
Meanwhile, the swearing in of the 23rd Knesset was set to begin on Monday. In place of the usual mass swearing-in ceremony, the Knesset is swearing in lawmakers in 40 rounds of three lawmakers each, adhering to Health Ministry orders prohibiting gatherings of more than 10 people in an enclosed space.
Doctors complained on Monday that they had insufficient protective equipment for treating patients with the deadly virus, after 19 medical professionals contracted the disease.
“For days we have been warning of oversights, of protocols and instructions for checks that do not fit with the situation — all of these are leading to infiltrations, ticking time bombs in the wards, where [patients] are being received by teams lacking protective equipment, who are becoming infected and infecting others,” Dr. Rey Biton, of the medical residents organization Mirsham, wrote on Facebook.
An anonymous senior official in the Health Ministry criticized his agency for what he described as a failure to ensure a sufficient supply of protective equipment — masks, gloves and hazmat suits — for such an outbreak.
“It is confounding what the Health Ministry has been doing in recent years. If it hasn’t been preparing for things like this — what has it been doing?” he asked the Walla news site.
Israel shuttered schools and most businesses over the past week in a bid to stem the spread of the virus in order to avoid overwhelming the country’s health infrastructure.
Similar efforts are underway around the world, especially in the hardest-hit nations of China, Italy, Iran, South Korea and Spain.
For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.
Italy, the worst-hit European country, reported its biggest day-to-day increase in infections on Sunday — 3,590 more cases in a 24-hour period — for a total of almost 24,747.
Dalia Samhouri, a regional official with the World Health Organization, said both Iran and Egypt, two of the most populous countries in the Mideast, were likely underreporting cases because infected people can still show no visible symptoms. Iran said it had nearly 14,000 virus cases and 724 deaths, while Egypt has reported 110 cases, including two fatalities.
As part of its measures to combat the spread, Israel’s government on Sunday approved a proposal to allow the Shin Bet security service to perform mass surveillance on Israelis’ phones without requiring a court order, prompting major concerns over privacy and civil liberty violations.
The measure still requires final approval from the Knesset’s subcommittee on clandestine services before it can be put into action.