Israel’s corona numbers rise after days of hopeful decline

Number of new infections doubles in one day with a slight rise in seriously ill cases as curfews expected on Muslim community.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

After several days of decline, the number of new cases of coronavirus in Israel surged Wednesday with the number of those hospitalized in serious condition also increasing by four percent.

The Ministry of Health reported 443 new infections in the past 24 hours, more than double the new cases reported the day before and bringing the total number of confirmed infections in Israel to 14,326. Of the 483 people hospitalized with coronavirus, 148 were in serious condition with 111 of them connected to ventilators.

Three people succumbed overnight, raising the death toll to 187.

However, the number of those hospitalized due to the virus continued to drop from a high last week of 783 to 483 as of Wednesday morning. An additional 454 people were declared recovered, bringing the total to date to 4,961 people who have overcome the illness.

The founder of the Hatzalah first-aid and rescue organization, Eli Beer, returned to Israel Tuesday after contracting the coronavirus during a trip that included India, England and the U.S.. In March, Beer had been in critical condition in a Miami hospital but recovered to come home on a private flight to grateful tears of family and members of his organization.

The month-long Muslim festival of Ramadan begins Thursday, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu conferred Tuesday with the mayors of Israel’s largest Arab cities and towns to discuss preparations for Israel’s roughly 1.5 million Muslims.

Religious leaders and Arab government officials will keep mosques closed and are urging their communities to hold the daily Iftar meal at home with only immediate family. The mayors called on Netanyahu to impose a daily curfew from 6:00 p.m. 3:00 a.m. in order to reduce the danger of gatherings that could lead to large-scale infection.

A similar curfew was imposed during the Jewish festival of Passover.

Early Wednesday, the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem sent an e-mail to citizens who had registered with the Embassy warning Americans living in the area that despite coronavirus restrictions “the potential for security incidents still exists.”

The Embassy barred government personnel and their family members living and working in Israel from traveling on Fridays during Ramadan to the known flashpoints in and around the Old City in Jerusalem.

“As security incidents often take place without warning, U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to remain vigilant and take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness,” the embassy said.

Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Druze religious leaders were scheduled to hold an interfaith virtual prayer Wednesday in Jerusalem. Chief Rabbis Yitzhak Yosef and David Lau will join the Greek Orthodox patriarch Theophilos III and Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Pierbattista Pizzaballa, imam Sheikhs Jamal al-Ubra and Aqeel al-Atrash, and Druze leader Sheikh Mowafak Tarif, to pray for the victims of the pandemic.