The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Israel soared beyond the 4,000 mark Sunday to 4,247, the Health Ministry announced Sunday evening, recording an increase of 628 in 24 hours.
The tally included 74 patients in serious condition, 20 more than the previous day, of whom 59 are attached to ventilators. Another 82 are in moderate condition, and the rest have mild symptoms.
The daily increase was the single largest since the first coronavirus case was recorded in the country, and put it in 17th place in terms of infection numbers worldwide.
At the same time, the death toll in Israel from the coronavirus rose to 15 on Sunday, with the death of Rosa Sherman, 84, in Jerusalem.
The capital’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center announced her death in a statement, saying she was hospitalized six days ago in very serious condition.
Sherman was the third person to die from the virus since Sunday morning. Earlier, one person died in Bnei Brak and another in Jerusalem, both in their 90s.
Of the 15 people to die so far in Israel from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, 13 were over the age of 70. An 82-year-old Israeli man in Italy also died of the disease.
One of those in serious condition is a man in his 20s who had no preexisting medical issues. Due to increasing difficulty breathing, he was sedated and hooked up to a ventilator, Samson Assuta Ashdod University Hospital said Sunday.
The continued rise in virus cases came as a top Health Ministry official reportedly warned that Israel needed to prepare for a situation in which 5,000 people infected with the virus needed ventilators.
“This is a difficult scenario, but we can endure it,” Dr. Vered Ezra, head of medical management at the ministry, was quoted as saying by Channel 12 news in a briefing.
According to a report prepared last week for the Knesset’s Special Committee on Dealing With the Coronavirus, there are at most 1,437 ventilators in the country still available to treat patients. The Health Ministry disputed that figure, saying there were 2,864 available ventilators.
There have been growing concerns there may not be enough ventilators to treat all of the most seriously ill, leaving doctors with life and death decisions on whom to keep alive.
Israelis were ordered starting last Wednesday to remain in their homes unless they are taking part in a small number of approved activities, including purchasing food and medicine or going a short walk of no more than 100 meters (328 feet) from their home. Those found violating those regulations are subject to fines of upwards of NIS 500 ($140) or imprisonment.
The government was set to weigh imposing further restrictions.