Daily virus rate surges to 730 new cases, highest tally since March

The Health Ministry said Tuesday morning that 730 new cases of the coronavirus had been diagnosed the day before, the highest level seen since March 25.

The number of patients in serious condition remained relatively steady at 45, including 10 on ventilators.

The Health Ministry said that including 100 further cases diagnosed since midnight, there were 4,623 active cases in the country, a figure that was around 200 less than a month ago.

With one new fatality, the death toll rose to 6,439. Eight deaths have been confirmed in the past week following almost two weeks of no fatalities.

There were over 55,000 tests performed on Monday and the positivity rate was 1.33%, an increase after a temporary glitch in recent weeks has been skewing the number of negative COVID tests reported at Ben Gurion Airport.

The previously misreported rates had lowered the percentage of tests coming back positive, a key metric used by decision-makers to determine how widespread the disease is.

Medical technicians test passengers for COVID-19 at the Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv on July 12, 2021. (Flash90)

Hospitals have been told to prepare coronavirus wards for an increase in patients, and the Israel Hayom newspaper reported Tuesday that medical centers were warning that they do not have the staff required for a renewed outbreak requiring the mass hospitalization of those infected.

Funding hasn’t been renewed for the 600 additional doctors hired during the pandemic, and financial assistance to the hospitals for the extra staff expired on June 30.

The matter was expected to be discussed at a meeting of the coronavirus cabinet to be held on Tuesday.

Hospital team members wearing safety gear as they work in the coronavirus ward of Ziv Medical Center in Safed, February 4, 2021. (David Cohen/Flash90)

Also at the meeting, senior health officials were set to make recommendations for limited restrictions to be brought back amid the rise in cases.

According to Channel 12 news, the experts are expected to recommend a return to a “softened” version of the Green Pass system, with large events such as weddings, cultural and sporting events to require unvaccinated participants to take a virus test at the entrance.

“We will see the exact data, we will hear the experts’ assessments, and then we will make a decision,” Housing Minister Ze’ev Elkin, a member of the coronavirus cabinet, told the outlet on Tuesday.

“The direction the government will take is not to impose restrictions just for the sake of it or to scare the public, but to implement them only when it is necessary and there is a very high probability that it will have an effect,” Elkin said.

Ze’ev Elkin at a ceremony in Jerusalem on May 18 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Meanwhile, in the early hours of Tuesday morning, the Knesset approved regulations giving the government expanded powers to deal with the pandemic via restrictions on the airport and flights. The extension of the current regulations will be in place until July 26.

The government has been repeatedly criticized over its handling of testing at the airport. Last month, thousands of passengers were allowed to enter the country without being tested when the airport’s facilities were overwhelmed by incoming travelers. The opening of the airport has been blamed for Israel’s renewed outbreak.

Amy Spiro contributed to this report.

Source Link: https://www.timesofisrael.com/daily-virus-rate-surges-to-730-new-cases-highest-tally-since-march/

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