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Virus tests — and infections — appear to rise again after weekend trough

Five more fatalities since Sunday night bring death toll to 541; coronavirus cabinet set to discuss weekend restrictions on businesses

A man is tested by a healthcare worker for the coronavirus at a drive-through testing center in Tel Aviv on July 6, 2020. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
A man is tested by a healthcare worker for the coronavirus at a drive-through testing center in Tel Aviv on July 6, 2020. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

Health Ministry figures released Monday morning showed 916 new coronavirus cases were recorded over the past 24 hours, as testing appeared to begin picking up again following a sharp drop over the weekend.

Five people died from the virus since Sunday night, raising the national toll to 541.

Of the 25,167 active cases, 334 people were in serious condition, with 100 on ventilators. Another 149 were in moderate condition and the rest had mild symptoms or were asymptomatic.

The ministry said 47,523 people have recovered from COVID-19 out of 73,231 infected since the start of the pandemic.

It also said 10,032 tests were performed Sunday, far below the roughly 30,000 conducted each day in recent weeks but above the 7,793 on Saturday.

As of 10:30 a.m. Monday, over 5,000 tests had been conducted since midnight, according to the Health Ministry. The number tracks with a likely eventual total of over 20,000 tests.

On Sunday evening, the ministry announced that there had been only 421 new cases over the previous 24 hours, the lowest tally in over a month. However, the figure was likely linked to the precipitous drop in testing.

Israel had seen around 2,000 new daily cases last week.

The ministry confirmed that 713 infections were found from midnight to midnight Sunday, or some 7.4 percent of those tested.

People wearing face masks walk in downtown Jerusalem on August 2, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israel has struggled to get the second wave of the virus under control, though on Sunday Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said the number of cases was stabilizing.

“We managed to stop the rise in infections,” Edelstein said at a press conference. “It’s good, but it’s certainly not enough. The numbers are still high and worrisome, including the number of serious patients.”

The new coordinator of the government’s COVID-19 response, Ronni Gamzu, said during the press conference that the government wouldn’t be “hasty” in lifting the current restrictions on daily life and parts of the economy designed to prevent infections.

Ministers in the so-called coronavirus cabinet were set to discuss Monday whether to lift the mandatory closure of stores and malls during weekends. The government weighed rolling back the restrictions last week before pushing off the move due to opposition from ultra-Orthodox lawmakers, who wanted limitations on synagogues to also be eased.

While possibly easing some measures, a report Sunday by the Kan public broadcaster said the the government was set to impose new restrictions in cities with high COVID-19 infection rates, including closing stores and reducing gatherings.

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