In Brief: Health minister warns of return to lockdown as serious covid cases surge


Israel’s health minister warned today that the country may have to return to a full lockdown if the current rise in coronavirus cases in the country continues. Yuli Edelstein was speaking as the Health Ministry said that 1,578 coronavirus infections were diagnosed in the previous 24 hours. Although the rate is down from the all-time high of 1,718 new cases recorded over the previous 24-hour period from Monday night to Tuesday night, the number of Israelis in a serious condition has now risen to 195. The highest number of serious cases at any one time was 183, recorded on 13 April. The number of Israeli fatalities rose by four to 375. In the West Bank, 46 people have now died. Among the Palestinian deaths was a 12-day-old baby boy with heart problems. Amir Shattat passed away on Tuesday, said the Palestinian Authority Health Ministry. In Israel, Edelstein publicly warned that a full lockdown was likely to be discussed at Sunday’s cabinet meeting. “The steps that we have already taken are not enough, and we need to decide on new restrictions,” the minister told the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper. He said that he would wait “a few days” to see if the tightening of controls on gatherings already announced might “by some miracle” be effective.

Israel’s National Security Council head warned on Wednesday that the rise in serious cases was threatening to overwhelm the country’s health service. “The increase rate of critically ill patients can threaten the capabilities of the health system in a short time,” Meir Ben-Shabbat suggested. Jerusalem’s Hadassah Ein Kerem, the Shamir Medical Centre in Be’er Yaakov and the Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, Israel’s largest hospital, are now at or above capacity for covid patients, the Health Ministry said. Read full article