Israel peaks again: More than 1,700 new coronavirus patients in one day

New ‘advisory committee’ dodges rolling out new restrictions • Bar Siman Tov: ‘Israel could see 1,000 dead’

Israelis, wearing face masks for fear of the coronavirus, shop for grocery at the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem on July 14, 2020. Israel has seen a spike of new COVID-19 cases bringing the authorities to reimpose restrictions to halt the spread of the virus (photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)
Israelis, wearing face masks for fear of the coronavirus, shop for grocery at the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem on July 14, 2020. Israel has seen a spike of new COVID-19 cases bringing the authorities to reimpose restrictions to halt the spread of the virus
(photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)
The meeting of a new coronavirus “advisory committee” ended Tuesday without resolution, despite the increasing number of Israelis diagnosed with coronavirus and how widespread it is across the country.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened the forum, which included former Health Ministry director-general Moshe Bar Siman Tov and consultants from the fields of economics and health. It was meant to evaluate potential new directives to block the increase in infections. The formulation of a long-term strategy was also discussed.
At the meeting, the National Security Council offered its recommendations: Summer camps should return to a capsule system or close entirely if they cannot manage to do so; synagogues, yeshivas, pools and workout centers – even at hotels – should be shut down; restaurants should revert to takeout only; and gatherings should be limited to 10 people.
Science and Technology Minister Izhar Shay (Blue and White) suggested implementing a closure only at night or on weekends.
However, despite their best efforts, no decisions were made, and the numbers continue to climb.
The forum will convene again in the coming days, the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement following the gathering.
Israel hit a new record for the number of people diagnosed with the novel coronavirus in a single day: 1,718 people on Monday, the Health Ministry reported Tuesday. Some 29,171 people were screened, making the infection rate 5.9%.
 
There were 183 patients in serious condition.
Between midnight and 11 p.m. on Tuesday, more than 1,300 more people were reported to be infected. So far, the country has had 42,360 people with the virus.

At the meeting, Bar Siman Tov cautioned that Israel could have 1,000 fatalities.
The virus is continuing to spread. At the beginning of the month, the Health Ministry reported infection in 133 cities; two weeks later, that number is 175. At the beginning of the month, there were two “red zones” (Lod and Ashdod); now there are six (Betar Illit, Beit Shemesh, Jerusalem, Kiryat Malachi, Lod and Ramle).
There are also eight “orange zones” throughout the country.
Public transportation is the most likely place to become infected (147 people on buses or the light rail in the past week), the Health Ministry reported. Some 94 people were infected in the past week at supermarkets; 58 in restaurants, coffee houses or bakeries; 53 in stores; 35 in malls; 21 in doctors’ offices; 17 in hotels or guesthouses; 16 in hospitals; 15 in seniors’ centers; and 14 in gyms or pools, it said.
As of Tuesday, 604 soldiers are infected with the virus, and 11,519 are in isolation, the IDF reported.
Minister in the Defense Ministry Michael Biton is in isolation, the Knesset spokesperson reported. He came in contact with a sick person and will leave quarantine on July 23.
The Health Ministry’s approach at the moment is to let the new restrictions run for a week and only then consider further restrictions.
Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz has said Israel cannot roll out a closure until it gains more trust in its decision-making team.
“Under the current circumstances, if the current rate of infection continues for a few more days, we will have to close,” Health Minister Yuli Edelstein reportedly said at the advisory committee meeting.
However, earlier in the day in an interview with Army Radio, he said: “I do not think we have lost control of the epidemic. Anyone who thinks that the virus cannot be caught and strangled does not know what he is talking about.”
Edelstein said he was “still optimistic. I think the public is more disciplined, and you see it. There are a lot more masks.”
Even if Israel chose to implement a full closure, the number of cases would continue to rise for a couple of weeks, as is happening now after the latest restrictions, he said.
The Knesset coronavirus committee’s decision to reopen pools and gyms was unfounded and dangerous, Edelstein said, adding that it was based on “a lack of understanding,” which “will lead us to a complete closure, something I have been trying to prevent since my first day in office.”
Israel should prepare for a closure, Israel Medical Association chairman Prof. Zion Hagai told Kan Radio on Tuesday. As soon as there are 2,000 new people infected each day, a lockdown should be declared, he said.
“The issue is not only a concern about the inadequacy of the health system when it comes to the number of coronavirus patients, but also a concern for the treatment of patients suffering from other diseases,” Hagai said.
Hospitals need to be better prepared for the winter, Health Ministry deputy director-general Itamar Grotto told the N12 website. Hospitals could see double the number of patients and would need more staff and expanded facilities, he said.
There is no need to worry yet, Grotto said, adding that the current restrictions could help prevent a full closure.
But former Health Ministry director-general Gabriel Barbash told N12: “We have only 90 days to prepare. There is no indication that the Health Ministry can handle this.”