The Health Ministry on Thursday morning announced the deaths of six people from COVID-19, bringing Israel’s death toll up to 79.
One of the fatalities was said to be an 84-year-old man who lived at the Mishan assisted living facility in the southern city of Beersheba, raising the number of people who died of the coronavirus there to 11.
The ministry said there have been 9,755 people diagnosed with the virus, an increase of 351 in the past 24 hours. There were 165 people in serious condition, 119 of whom are on ventilators.
Another 171 were in moderate condition, with the rest having mild symptoms.
So far, 864 Israelis have recovered from the virus, including three women in their 90s, Army Radio reported.
One of the fatalities was an 86-year-old man who died at the Baruch Padeh Medical Center in the northern city of Tiberias and suffered from underlying health conditions, the hospital said in a statement.
The man lived in an elder care home there — there were no immediate details on his identity, and the assisted living facility was also not named.
The other fatalities included a 90-year-old woman being treated at Kfar Saba’s Meir Hospital and a 72-year-old man hospitalized at Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer.
Both were said to have preexisting medical conditions.
There were eight new deaths from COVID-19 on Wednesday, including two residents of Mishan. The Yokra assisted living facility in the northern town of Yavne’el also saw its third death on Wednesday.
The novel coronavirus is spreading quickly in nursing homes around the country, raising intense concern for the safety of elderly residents. The Nofim Tower assisted living center in Jerusalem has also been hard hit by the virus outbreak.
The Health Ministry said Thursday it was conducting tests over Passover at assisted living facilities where there have been confirmed COVID-19 cases, adding that 3,000 tests were expected to be performed Thursday and each of the coming days.
On Tuesday, a 37-year-old man died from the virus, the youngest fatality in Israel.
Almost all of those who have died from COVID-19 in Israel have been elderly and suffered from preexisting conditions, according to hospital officials.
While the death toll has continued to steadily climb, experts have pointed to the relatively slow rise in the number of patients on ventilators as a source of potential encouragement.
Putting a dent in the optimism, health officials are projecting that Israel will fall short of testing 10,000 people a day for the novel coronavirus in the immediate term because of a shortage of a key reagent. On Tuesday, the number of tests conducted, according to Channel 12, was under 2,000.
It was announced Wednesday that a shipment of tens of thousands of virus tests was arriving from South Korea. However, those supplies would last for only a few days at the rate of testing required.
A national lockdown barring intercity travel came into effect Tuesday ahead of the Passover holiday. A full closure was in effect over the first night of the holiday on Wednesday, to prevent further spread of the virus, and lifted at 7 a.m. on Thursday morning.
Israelis continued to be barred from leaving their home towns as part of a general lockdown nationwide that won’t be lifted until Friday at 6 a.m. In Jerusalem, which has the most virus cases in the country, residents could not travel beyond the one of seven city designated zones in which they live.
However, the government was set to convene Friday and may further extend the lockdown, according to the Walla news site.
Moshe Bar Siman-Tov, director-general of the Health Ministry, said Tuesday that if the coming weeks bring a drop in cases from hundreds to dozens a day, the government will be able to move forward with plans to gradually ease the restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the virus.