Over 2,000 virus cases on Wednesday, with sharp rise in seriously ill
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Over 2,000 virus cases on Wednesday, with sharp rise in seriously ill

Active cases jump to 32,755, serious cases up by 22 in 12 hours; 27,597 tests conducted Wednesday as numbers refuse to dip

A medic collects a swab sample from a man at a coronavirus testing facility in Or Yehuda, on July 22, 2020. (Jack Guez/ AFP)
A medic collects a swab sample from a man at a coronavirus testing facility in Or Yehuda, on July 22, 2020. (Jack Guez/ AFP)

Health Ministry figures released Thursday morning showed 2,085 new coronavirus cases were recorded the previous day, with the number of seriously ill people climbing by 36 in the previous 24 hours.

According to the ministry, of the 32,755 active cases, there were 295 people in serious condition, including 79 on ventilators. There were another 131 people in moderate condition, while the rest had mild or no symptoms.

There were three new fatalities reported since Wednesday evening, bringing the death toll to 433.

The rise in new cases brought the number of total infections to 56,748. There are 23,560 Israelis who have recovered from the virus.

The Health Ministry said 27,597 COVID-19 tests were performed on Wednesday, in a slight drop from the previous day.

People wearing face masks walk at Mamilla Mall in Jerusalem on July 21, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The latest jump in infections came hours after the Knesset passed a law that grants the cabinet expanded powers to impose wide-ranging restrictions to curb the coronavirus pandemic, while reducing parliamentary oversight.

The so-called Great Coronavirus Law, which comes into force on August 10, reduces the Knesset’s oversight power and neuters its Coronavirus Committee, which in recent days reversed a series of cabinet-ordered lockdown restrictions on public areas including restaurants and beaches, infuriating ministers. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had reportedly weighed firing the committee chair, Likud MK Yifat Shasha-Biton. Instead, the new law deprives her committee of its authority to reverse such orders, and grants more limited oversight powers to four other Knesset panels.

The legislation allows the cabinet to set restrictions on the public, with the Knesset given just 24 hours to approve or reject the regulations before they take effect automatically. In addition, it includes a clause that allows the cabinet to bypass the Knesset and immediately implement measures deemed “urgent,” without specifying the criteria for making that determination. Knesset committees in those instances will still be able to reverse the emergency regulations, but only a week, and less than two weeks, after they are approved by the cabinet.

Separately, late on Wednesday, former senior health official Gabi Barbash, who was selected by the government to lead the response to the coronavirus pandemic, said he was walking away from the job.

Prof. Ronni Gamzu, a former director general of the Health Ministry who now heads the Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, will assume the position instead of Barbash.

Barbash rejected the position due to disputes with the Health Ministry over how to handle the crisis. The chief disagreement was over the division of authority between Health Minister Yuli Edelstein and Barbash if he had taken the position. Barbash was said to have told officials he would not be able to lead the fight against the pandemic effectively without powers over the health system, the Health Ministry, and other ministries as well.

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