Number of coronavirus patients in Israel passes 1,000 as 126 more diagnosed

Health Ministry puts tally at 1,071, including 1 fatality, 18 serious cases and 30 in moderate condition; numbers represent slight dip in daily rate

A Magen David Adom worker at a drive-through site to collect samples for coronavirus testing, Tel Aviv, March 20, 2020. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
A Magen David Adom worker at a drive-through site to collect samples for coronavirus testing, Tel Aviv, March 20, 2020. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

The Health Ministry on Sunday evening announced that Israel’s coronavirus cases had topped 1,000, adding 126 cases to the morning’s tally.

The country now has 1,071 official cases of COVID-19, including one death and 18 patients in serious condition, the ministry said.

The number of serious cases marked a drop from Sunday morning’s figures, which had listed 20 such patients.

The ministry added that 30 people were in moderate condition, 37 had recovered — meaning no patients recovered on Sunday — and the rest had mild symptoms.

The 126 new cases showed a modest slowdown after Israel had seen numbers spike from 529 to 877 in two days, from Thursday morning to Saturday morning.

Medical staff seen after the arrival of a patient to the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, over suspicions she may be infected with the coronavirus on January 27, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Health Ministry said Thursday that it had ramped up to around 2,000 tests a day, but has not released any figures for the number of tests run since then. The Magen David Adom emergency Service said Saturday it collected some 3,700 swab samples for testing over the weekend, but it was unclear how many were run for tests in labs.

Israel’s first fatality from the virus, 88-year-old Holocaust survivor Aryeh Even, was buried overnight in a funeral service that was capped at 20 mourners. All present were required to stand at a two-meter (6.5 ft) distance from one another, according to Channel 12.

Ministers late Saturday night updated emergency regulations, which came into effect on Sunday at 8 a.m. for the next seven days, aimed at keeping Israelis at home and to be enforced by police.

Updated: When are Israelis allowed to leave home? The specifics

Aryeh Even, Israel’s first fatality in the coronavirus pandemic (Courtesy)

According to the new rules, which the government has vowed to enforce, Israelis must remain at home, with exceptions made for buying essential food and medical supplies or seeking medical treatment. Other exceptions include attending demonstrations, aiding an elderly or ill person, blood donations, attending court hearings, seeking aid from welfare services, going to the Knesset, and attending religious services, including weddings and funerals (which must have no more than 10 people present) or visiting a ritual bath (mikveh).

Israelis were permitted to exercise outdoors, with no more than two people together, and to venture out for short walks near their homes. The ban also limited the number of people who could drive in a car to two, unless they were members of the same household (this does not apply to “essential” errands, carpools of essential workers to and from work, and delivery services).

The head of the coronavirus treatment team at the Health Ministry said Sunday that if people abide by the new directives and stay home, Israel will start to see the results in approximately 10 days.

“Self-isolation is very helpful and we will see the results in around 10 days. Hopefully, the self-isolation will flatten the curve significantly,” Dr. Boaz Lev told the Kan public broadcaster, referring to efforts to try to prevent a surge in the number of people requiring hospitalization at the same time.

A playground at Tel Aviv’s beachfront wrapped in tape to prevent public access, on March 19, 2020. (AP Photo/ Oded Balilty)

The disease generally shows only mild symptoms in the young and healthy, and can cause serious respiratory issues and death in older adults and those with underlying conditions.

Recent days have seen rising criticism of the conditions in which medical practitioners have been forced to work in the pandemic, and the health system’s ill-preparedness for the outbreak. Medical workers have criticized the government and the Health Ministry for not providing them with adequate equipment to protect against catching the virus from the patients they are treating.

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