The rise in coronavirus cases in Israel is becoming dramatic and cause for concern, Israeli Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said on Tuesday.
“At this rate, we are heading toward 200 new cases per day. Just so we’re clear, the situation is not good. If we don’t wake up, we’ll find ourselves in a very problematic situation. Ignoring the [Health Ministry] instructions and brushing them off is causing a change in the [downward] trend of cases,” said Edelstein.
A total of 148 new cases were confirmed on Tuesday, compared to 176 on Monday and 140 on Sunday. The number of confirmed cases in Israel now stands at 2,722, with 111 hospitalized. A total of 31 COVID-19 patients are listed in serious condition, 24 of whom are on ventilators.
Thus far, 299 Israelis have succumbed to coronavirus, while 15,159 have recovered.
Tel Aviv leads the list with regard to new cases, with 81 residents testing positive since Sunday. A total of 30 new cases have been identified in Jerusalem; 25 in Bnei Brak; 15 in Netanya; 14 in Rishon Letzion; and 13 in Sderot.
Given the rise in confirmed cases, enforcement of Health Ministry guidelines will be stepped up. In a meeting on Tuesday evening, Edelstein, Interior Minister Arye Deri, police and National Security Council officials agreed that local authorities would train inspectors who will help issue fines for violations.
Also on Tuesday, Edelstein visited Soroka Medical Center in Beersheva. He addressed the crowding and disorderly conduct of a group of fans at a soccer match this week, saying, “Every sight of crowding and disturbances at a sports event makes us less inclined to ease regulations further. If things go on this way, there won’t be a championship [match].”
However, Edelstein said he did not support reverting to earlier measures to stop the spread of coronavirus, which he said would “hurt the economy and the lives of citizens.”
The new health minister discussed the importance of a major increase in the number of corona tests being administered.
“Our goal is 30,000 tests per day. Because the labs are under a tremendous burden, we are working with the Finance Minister to fund another 200 [laboratory] positions so employees won’t collapse,” he said.
Meanwhile, 137 schools and daycare centers shut down on Tuesday after cases of coronavirus were identified in their facilities. Schools were closed in Bat Yam, Mazkeret Batya, Rishon Letzion and the Shoham Regional Council. The cities of Rishon Letzion and Modi’in have also started conducting corona tests.
The number of students and teachers who have tested positive for the virus stands at 418, and a total of 21,877 students and teachers are in quarantine after cases were confirmed at their schools.
In a related development, a passenger on an El Al flight from New York that landed in Tel Aviv on Tuesday morning has tested positive for coronavirus. It is unclear whether there were other carriers on the flight, although the woman who tested positive appears not to have been traveling on her own. The flight was reportedly full, with no empty seats between passengers. JN
Gadi Golan, Noam Dvir, Shlomi Diaz and Shimon Yaish contributed to this report.
This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.