Virus death toll climbs by 9 to 464; another 892 cases diagnosed
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Virus death toll climbs by 9 to 464; another 892 cases diagnosed

Health Ministry figures show 33,965 active patients, of whom 329 are seriously ill, with 100 on ventilators

Jerusalemites, wearing face masks for fear of the coronavirus, shop at the Malha Mall in Jerusalem in Jerusalem on July 29, 2020.  (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Jerusalemites, wearing face masks for fear of the coronavirus, shop at the Malha Mall in Jerusalem in Jerusalem on July 29, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The national death toll from the coronavirus climbed to 464 as the Health Ministry announced Sunday nine more deaths since its previous update the night before.

There were 892 new cases diagnosed during that period.

Since the start of the outbreak, there have been 61,388 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, diagnosed in the country, and 26,959 people have recovered.

Of the 33,965 active cases remaining, 329 have serious symptoms, an increase of 17, and there were 100 people on ventilators, the ministry figures showed. A further 166 people have moderate symptoms.

On Saturday, 1,108 cases were diagnosed and 14,621 virus tests were processed, of which 7.6 percent were found to be positive.

A further 15,476 virus tests were carried out Saturday and will be processed in the coming days. That compared to 23,154 tests performed on Friday, though testing levels typically drop significantly over the weekend.

At Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel’s new virus czar, Ronni Gamzu, will present a plan later in the week for curbing the virus’s spread that will include a greater role for the Israel Defense Forces.

Netanyahu did not elaborate, though Hebrew media reported the army will be tasked with assisting in epidemiological investigations of known virus carriers. Swift epidemiological assessments are seen as a key strategy in curbing the virus spread by ensuring those who may have been exposed to the virus enter self-quarantine before they can possibly infect others.

Gamzu was appointed last week to lead and coordinate the national campaign against the outbreak.

Israel has seen a marked increase in cases over the past several weeks.

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

On Friday The New York Times ranked Israel sixth in the world in new daily cases per million people, with a little under 200 a day at that ratio. The US was just above it at a little over 200 per million, followed by South Africa, Panama, Bahrain and Oman, which led the pack with some 300 cases a day per million residents.

Israel shuttered businesses for the weekend starting on Friday in a bid to stem the spread of the virus.

Restrictions aimed at curbing the coronavirus kicked in at 5 p.m. Friday and remained in effect until early Sunday morning, after a tumultuous week that saw some of the government’s planned closures overturned by a Knesset panel.

Malls were closed for the weekend, as well as most stores, markets, open-air shopping centers, hair and beauty salons and gyms. They were allowed to reopen at 5 a.m. on Sunday.

Unlike during the nationwide closures of March and April, there were no limits on leaving home.

The Knesset Coronavirus Committee had continued with its series of reversals of cabinet-imposed restrictions, ruling in several separate decisions that restaurants, attractions, swimming pools and beaches could remain open over the weekend and that gyms may reopen on Sunday morning.

The committee has said the Health Ministry has not provided sufficient evidence to justify shuttering such places, but health officials say the origin of a significant portion of infections is not known, therefore forcing them to partially rely on global data on infections to decide on high-risk locations.

Experts have blamed a too-speedy reopening and the lack of an effective contact tracing program as main factors in the virus running riot.

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