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Israel’s COVID-19 death toll leaps up by 59 within 24-hour period

Health Ministry gives conflicting messages on whether all deaths occurred over one-day period or some were added retroactively

Illustrative: A COVID-19 patient lies face down as a nurse prepares an injection in the ICU of the National Hospital in Itagua, Paraguay, September 7, 2020. (AP Photo/Jorge Saenz)
Illustrative: A COVID-19 patient lies face down as a nurse prepares an injection in the ICU of the National Hospital in Itagua, Paraguay, September 7, 2020. (AP Photo/Jorge Saenz)

The Health Ministry added 59 deaths to the country’s coronavirus toll in the 24-hour period between Wednesday and Thursday evening, after two consecutive days that saw over 6,000 new confirmed infections.

It was not immediately clear whether 59 people had died during the period, or whether some deaths had been added to the count retroactively, but it was the highest single-day rise in the figure since the start of the pandemic.

There were 1,376 recorded coronavirus deaths as of Thursday evening, with 685 patients in serious condition, including 175 on ventilators. At the same time Wednesday, health ministry data had recorded 1,317 coronavirus deaths, making for a jump in 59 recorded deaths — though the ministry also claimed only seven people had died Thursday by the evening hours.

A spokeswoman for the ministry could not immediately square the conflicting data, though she said the total figure of 1,376 deaths was accurate.

Due to the country’s staggering infection rate, harsh lockdown measures are set to come into force on Friday at 2 p.m., and will see nearly all businesses closed, prayers and public protests severely curtailed, public transportation scaled back dramatically and Israelis ordered to remain close to home, with fewer exceptions than in the existing lockdown.

The decision to tighten lockdown measures followed recommendations by the so-called coronavirus cabinet Wednesday night and was later approved in a full cabinet vote Thursday morning. It was set to win final approval in Knesset legislation later Thursday.

According to the latest Health Ministry figures, 56,307 tests were conducted on Wednesday and 6,883 people were confirmed as carriers of the coronavirus.

The latest figures pushed the number of Israel’s confirmed cases to 209,635, a month after the country hit 100,000 cases.

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