Israel’s virus deaths pass 400 with 9 more fatalities

1,324 new coronavirus cases diagnosed Saturday, Health Ministry says; 217 patients are in serious condition

A Magen David Adom ambulance service medic handling coronavirus tests in Jerusalem on April 19, 2020. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)
File: A Magen David Adom ambulance service medic, wearing protective gear, seen handling coronavirus tests from patients outside a hotel being used as a coronavirus quarantine facility, in Jerusalem on April 19, 2020. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Israel’s COVID-19 death toll rose to 401 Saturday night, with nine more deaths reported since Friday evening, the Health Ministry said. Meanwhile the ministry said 1,324 new coronavirus cases were confirmed Saturday, bringing the national case total to 49,365 since the start of the pandemic, of which 27,616 were active cases.

Of the patients, 217 were in serious condition, with 56 of them on ventilators, while 131 were in moderate condition and the rest suffered only mild or no symptoms.

The ministry said 25,058 tests were conducted Friday and some 18,099 had been conducted thus far Saturday. Recent days have seen tests stand at around 30,000 a day, though weekends tends to see somewhat lower numbers.

Infections have gone up steadily since early June, and in recent days began to pass 1,800-1,900 cases a day, far surpassing the initial wave of the outbreak in March-April.

New public restrictions authorized by the government to combat the spread of coronavirus entered into effect Friday at 5 p.m., limiting public gatherings until further notice and shuttering various leisure and fitness activities for the duration of the weekend.

Gatherings of over 10 people indoors, and 20 outdoors, will also be forbidden until further notice, but work groups and nuclear families will be exempt.

A last-minute reversal by the government led to a decision to keep restaurants open until Tuesday, when they will be shuttered until further notice for all but takeaways and deliveries. The government changed course when it faced widespread threats by restaurant owners to defy the closure order, which had been originally intended to take effect at 5 p.m. on Friday.

Hebrew media reports indicated that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz had decided to keep educational institutions open for now, at least until the middle of next week. Shutting down the education system would close kindergartens, camps and summer schools.

Government offices will be limited to 50% capacity and will be closed to the public, except for online services, until further notice. Cafeterias at workplaces will be closed, except for takeout.

Meanwhile, only on weekends until further notice, shops will close but stores offering essential services, such as pharmacies and supermarkets, will be allowed to remain open.

Malls, markets, barbers, hairdressers, beauty parlors, libraries, zoos, museums, exhibition spaces, pools and tourist sites will also be closed on weekends.

This weekend, there are no new restrictions on movement and beaches will remain open, subject to social distancing. But a tighter weekend lockdown is likely to take effect from Friday, July 24, including restrictions on movement.

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