There are promising signs that the rate of coronavirus infections in Israel is slowing following the implementation of strict restrictions across the country, National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat told cabinet ministers, Channel 12 reported Friday.
Speaking at Thursday night’s cabinet meeting that authorized a closure on the ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak, Ben-Shabbat said that “there are signs that the rate of infection is slowing down.”
However, he urged caution, saying this “should not be seen as a steady trend,” the TV quoted him as saying.
The cabinet also approved the formation of a ministerial committee headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that will be charged with determining whether additional towns should be declared “restriction zones” in order to curb the outbreak.
The cabinet meeting was held over a conference call. Netanyahu and Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar Siman-Tov were in quarantine, after Health Minister Yaakov Litzman was diagnosed with the coronavirus on Thursday.
With its population of 200,000, Bnei Brak has seen the second-highest number of infections of all Israeli cities in total numbers, and the highest rate by far per capita.
The Health Ministry said Friday morning the number of Israelis infected with the coronavirus rose to 7,030 on Friday morning, a rise of 173 cases from Thursday.
Three men in their seventies died of the coronavirus on Friday, bringing the national death toll from the pandemic to 39.
The Sheba Medical Center announced the death of a 71-year-old man, who had “significant preexisting illnesses,” on Friday morning.
The second fatality of the day was announced hours later by the Hillel Yaffe Medical Center in Hadera. The hospital said the 75-year-old man who succumbed to the disease had underlying health issues.
The third man, 79, died at the Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba.
None of the victims Friday were immediately identified.
Ninety-five patients were on ventilators and 170 were in serious condition on Friday morning, the Health Ministry said, while 144 were moderately sick. At least 357 Israelis have recovered from the disease.
The highest number of cases was recorded in Jerusalem (1,003), followed by the ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak (966) and Tel Aviv-Jaffa (335). Bnei Brak, one-quarter the size of the capital by population, was closed off by police on Friday morning to stem the outbreak.
Thursday saw an additional 10 fatalities.
The death toll has more than doubled from 16 since Monday, and the number of people on ventilators or in serious condition has also nearly doubled in the last week.
Bar Siman-Tov said this week that he expects there to eventually be “thousands of dead” in Israel, while another ministry official said Monday that authorities were preparing to have to put 5,000 people on ventilators.