Israel hits new record high of 9,000 daily infections

The prime minister called for the health care system to prepare to handle 5,000 patients in serious condition.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

Israel continues to be pulled down by the undertow of the pandemic’s second wave. The country’s Health Ministry recorded 8,919 new corona cases on Wednesday, the highest yet.

The total number of active cases is 68,811. There are 810 serious cases, of which 206 are on ventilators. Israel has made much of the fact that 800 serious cases is a red line, signaling that the corona wards are full.

On Wednesday night, Channel 12 reported that at least one hospital was releasing serious patients back to their homes even though they required the help of respirators to breathe.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a Tuesday meeting of the corona cabinet said that the health care system should prepare for a scenario of 5,000 patients in serious condition. This was up from his Monday evening statement calling for increasing the number of beds to 1,500 by Oct. 1.

The rapid change in numbers is in keeping with the government’s constantly changing prognostications, guidelines and rules that have so exasperated the Israeli public.

The prime minister in that meeting also called for tightening the distance people could travel from their homes from one kilometer to 200 meters, something the government will vote on Thursday.

Defense Minister and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz opposed the tightening.

“We are driving the country crazy,” Gantz said. “If people do not obey instructions, then it does not matter if it is 100 meters, 200 meters or a thousand meters.”

To this Netanyahu replied: “You will not tell me that we are driving the public crazy.”

On Thursday, the government approved via call various new restrictions including the new Knesset law limiting protesters to one kilometer from their homes, a higher 500 shekel fine on anyone entering a residence other than their own home, and a three-day extension of the current closure.

For one week, the government has banned all gatherings, demonstrations, prayers and religious ceremonies in open spaces above 20 people.

Government officials have been preparing the Israeli public for a longer lockdown than the one currently scheduled, which had been set to expire on Oct. 10 until the three-day extension.

On Tuesday, Netanyahu said that the lockdown could last a month, with odds strong that it would continue “much longer.”

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said on Tuesday “There is no scenario that in 10 days we will lift everything and say, ‘everything is over, everything is fine.”