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COVID-19: Israel’s coronavirus cases reach 529

In the middle east, the number of coronavirus patients in Israel has risen to 529, the country’s Health Ministry said. According to the ministry, six patients are in serious condition and 12 have recovered. 

The number of coronavirus cases grew by 102 in the past 24 hours. Israel reported its first coronavirus case on February 27.

The last two days alone have seen almost 200 new confirmed cases, with the sharp rise at least partially attributable to increased testing throughout the country.

Six of those ill were in serious condition, 13 were in moderate condition and the rest were doing well.

The ministry’s latest daily numbers were issued several hours later than usual, with officials saying the update was delayed by an increase in tests and testing facilities that led to more data to parse through.

In recent days the Health Ministry has boosted testing for the virus from some 500-700 a day to around 2,200 every day on Tuesday and Wednesday, with efforts to reach 3,000 daily.

It was also set to imminently introduce drive-through testing stations in several major cities that would allow easier and safer mass scanning procedures, though the planned opening of the first such facility in Tel Aviv on Wednesday was delayed due to a shortage of test kits.

Overnight, the Mossad spy agency reportedly brought some 100,000 coronavirus test kits into the country, amid claims of insufficient medical equipment in hospitals and clinics. But Itamar Grotto, the deputy director-general of the Health Ministry, said the kits did not contain the equipment medical officials were most in need of — swabs.

On Wednesday night the Defense Ministry said it would take over purchases of all equipment related to the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic in an effort to make the process more efficient.

Israeli officials are hoping that strict measures limiting movement will help stem the virus’s spread before it gets worse, but authorities have said Israel may soon see cases in the thousands and its first deaths from the pathogen.

Grotto earlier warned the country could be headed to a total lockdown if its required to stop the spread of the contagion, but such a step could still be avoided if the public adheres to instructions to stay inside their homes and avoid venturing out as much as possible.

The government introduced sweeping new restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus on Tuesday, instructing Israelis not to leave their homes unless absolutely necessary, but stopping short of imposing a mandatory lockdown.

Grotto told Army Radio on Thursday that officials would prefer to take the drastic measure to stamp out the virus. “We would have liked to have a full lockdown, but if the pubic listens to orders there will be less need for it,” Grotto said.
Officials have indicated a lockdown could be imposed in the coming days. On Tuesday, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan instructed the Israel Police to prepare for a complete lockdown of the country, calling such a move “inevitable.”

The directives are not yet being enforced by police. In recent days leaders were dismayed by many Israelis continuing to go out to the beach and to public parks despite the crisis — though following the announcement of the latest restrictions those numbers were reported to have gone down.

In late December 2019, Chinese authorities notified the World Health Organization (WHO) about the outbreak of a previously unknown pneumonia in the city of Wuhan, central China. Since then, cases of the novel coronavirus — named COVID-19 by the WHO — have been reported in more than 170 countries, including Russia.

On March 11, the WHO declared the outbreak a global pandemic. As of now, over 210,000 people have been infected around the world and about 8,600 have died.

Read more from the Source TOI

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