With six new fatalities, the number of people who have died of COVID-19 in Israel rose to 480, according to figures released by the Health Ministry on Tuesday.
The figures came as Health Minister Yuli Edelstein announced the appointment of Sharon Alroy-Preis to take over as head of public health at the ministry.
She is replacing Siegal Sadetzki, who resigned earlier this month criticizing what she said was authorities’ chaotic and ineffective approach to tackling the coronavirus outbreak.
Edelstein said in a statement that Alroy-Pries is “a significant reinforcement for the health services system in the ministry and for activities to cut off the chain of infection.”
Alroy-Preis said “she is grateful for the opportunity and proud to join the excellent team that is leading the national confrontation with the coronavirus crisis.”
Alroy-Preis, an expert on internal diseases and public health, has recently served as deputy director of Carmel Medical Center, and has been a board member since 2015. From 2010 to 2013 she was the New Hampshire State Epidemiologist. She joins the ministry after virus czar Ronni Gamzu was appointed last week to lead and coordinate efforts to curb the virus outbreak.
Ministry figures showed the number of those diagnosed with the virus increased by 1,068 and there are now 32,052 active patients, of whom 321 have serious symptoms and 97 are on ventilators.
The figures showed that the number of seriously ill has climbed steadily from 44 on June 26 to the current level. The number of those on ventilators has also risen, from 24 patients on that date.
Of the 64,649 people diagnosed since the virus outbreak began earlier this year, 32,117 have recovered.
The number of active cases reported by the ministry dropped by several thousand in the latest update due to new criteria taking effect that shorten quarantine periods for confirmed carriers and regard them as recovered after 10 days including at least three days without symptoms.
After Monday’s figures showed that virus treatment wards at four of the biggest hospitals in the country had exceeded their maximum capacity, the ward at Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem increased from 152% to 180% capacity. Of the other three, Shaare Zedek Medical Center increased from 106% to 108%, the Ichilov Medical Center remained at 110% and the Assaf Harofeh Medical Center, near Tel Aviv, went from 110% to 112% capacity.
As infection rates have soared to some 2,000 a day critics have accused the government of a belated response to the sharp uptick in cases and the Health Ministry of a failure to carry out effective contact tracing and epidemiological probes to contain the outbreak.