Israeli corona infections top 2000 in one day, deadliest week ever with 89 deaths

Second wave of pandemic continues unabated as health measures proving ineffective.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

The Ministry of Health reported over 2,000 new cases of coronavirus infections Friday with the number of Israelis hospitalized in serious condition reaching a record high.

The number of corona=related deaths now stands at 891, with 89 deaths this past week being the highest weekly tally since the pandemic struck Israel.

Ministry statistics showed 2,068 people tested positive for coronavirus out of the 36,372 tests that were conducted on Thursday. It is the highest daily number of new cases since July 29.

Of the 855 people hospitalized, 426 patients are listed in serious condition, a record high since the beginning of the pandemic. Of those in serious condition, 118 are connected to ventilators to help them breathe.

There 20,444 active cases in Israel and overnight another three people succumbed to the disease, bringing the death toll to 891.

Following a spring lockdown that reduced new infections to zero, the government eased some health restrictions and opened up the economy, emphasizing social distancing, wearing masks and washing hands.

However, despite restrictions on large gatherings, especially indoors, the infection rate has steadily increased and hospitals have been filling up with patients.

This week the government introduced more economic measures to help the economy and assist the education system in preparing for the opening of the school year next week.

“I am very happy that we are starting the school year on 1 September in the corona format,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier this week. “It is important for the children’s’ education, and it is also important for our economy to allow parents to go to work.”

On Sunday, however, the national labor court is scheduled to hold a hearing on a request submitted by the Education and Finance Ministries for a restraining order prohibiting the teachers’ union from striking kindergartens, elementary schools and middle schools on September 1.

The union is demanding that all at-risk teachers work from home, while the government says it told the union that the same rules that apply to at-risk civil servants will also apply to teachers, and teachers are needed in schools.

The Education Ministry has set smaller class sizes for younger grades and more distance learning from grades 5 through 12, but a report by the social action NGO Latet this week showed that some 20 percent of Israeli students don’t have a computer or internet access.

The ministry came under heavy criticism earlier this year for reopening too quickly and without proper controls in place after a coronavirus outbreak at a Jerusalem high school left almost 200 people infected and the school closed.