Virus cases in Israel rise to 3,865; 66 seriously ill including man in his 20s
Unemployment rate at 22.15%, with nearly 925,000 out of jobs

Virus cases in Israel rise to 3,865; 66 seriously ill including man in his 20s

Hospital says patient has no preexisiting illness; Health Ministry says 54 people on ventilators, while vast majority of COVID-19 patients have only light symptoms

Magen David Adom paramedics in protective clothing are seen in Jerusalem on March 28, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Magen David Adom paramedics in protective clothing are seen in Jerusalem on March 28, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The Health Ministry on Sunday morning announced 249 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total in Israel to 3,865.

The ministry said 66 people were in serious condition, including 54 who were breathing with the help of ventilators.

Another 82 people were in moderate condition, while the rest had minor symptoms.

Twelve people in Israel have died from COVID-19 and 89 have fully recovered.

A Magen David Adom worker wearing protective clothing as a preventive measure against the coronavirus, arrives to test a patient with symptoms of coronavirus in Jerusalem on March 28, 2020 (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

Most of those with the virus were being treated at home or at specially designated hotels for those with COVID-19, and 500 patients were at hospitals around the country.

Among those in serious condition was a man in his 20s with no preexisting medical issues, who due to increasing problems with his breathing was sedated and hooked up to a ventilator, Samson Assuta Ashdod University Hospital said.

Also Sunday, the Employment Service reported 32,577 had people registered as jobless over the weekend, bringing the unemployment rate in Israel to 22.15 percent.

Since the start of March, 764,165 Israelis have filed for unemployment, bringing the total number of the jobless in the country to 922,016.

People outside the unemployment bureau in Jerusalem. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

Amid the economic fallout, government officials were reportedly nearing a NIS 80 billion ($22.5 billion) package to help businesses struggling under the coronavirus crisis.

The government was also set to weigh further restrictions on movement in a bid to contain the virus.

One directive to be weighed on Sunday is to further reduce, from 30 percent to 20 percent, the proportion of a given company’s staff allowed to continue to go to work. Another would be to restrict people to within 2-3 kilometers from home when buying groceries and supplies, and a third measure would see supermarkets allocate two hours a day for elderly shoppers who are considered high risk for contracting the virus.

Finance Ministry officials have resisted a full lockdown on movement, warning Netanyahu of dire consequences for the economy. The ministry has clashed with officials from the Health Ministry who have for weeks advocated the strictest of measures.

Officials were closely watching the infection rate figures — which are continuing to rise but are not soaring — as they weigh further restrictions, Channel 12 reported Saturday.

Police patrol on Jaffa Street in Jerusalem on March 28, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israelis were ordered starting on Wednesday to remain in their homes unless they are taking part in a small number of specially designated approved activities, including purchasing food and medicine or a short walk of no more than 100 meters (328 feet) from their home. Those found violating those regulations are subject to large fines of upwards of NIS 500 ($140) or imprisonment.

Police are set to begin aggressively enforcing the current measures starting on Sunday. On Saturday, Channel 12 reported that officers have handed out some 1,000 fines to people found violating the directives.

However, hundreds of people took part in a funeral procession in the ultra-Orthodox town on Bnei Brak early Sunday, jamming closely together in contravention of social distancing rules as police reportedly looked on without taking action.

As part of the ramped-up enforcement efforts, some 500 armed soldiers on Sunday began to patrol Israeli cities and towns with police officers to ensure citizens were abiding by the government’s partial lockdown.

The troops were meant to serve as an auxiliary force to the police, who are formally charged with enforcing the regulations.

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