Israel on Wednesday saw over 3,000 new coronavirus cases for the second straight day, as the number of local authorities designated as ‘”red” infection hotspots also rose. The Health Ministry on Wednesday said that 3,269 new coronavirus cases had been diagnosed the previous day.
The Health Ministry reported that out of some 98,000 tests conducted on Tuesday, 3,269 returned positive – putting the infection rate at 3.3%.
Out of 449 hospitalized patients, 237 are in serious condition, with 48 connected to ventilators.
As of Tuesday, 18 local authorities were categorized as “red” zones across the country, up from 13 on Monday. Among the communities are: Or Akiva, Beit She’an, Kiryat Motzkin, Kiryat Malachi, Afula, Kiryat Gat, Dimona, Sakhnin, Kfar Yona, Chatzor Haglilit, Netivot, Charish, Sderot, Kiryat Yam and Mazkeret Batya.
Officials said 200 of the new cases were Israelis who returned from abroad. Among them are 53 arrivals from Turkey, 30 from Greece, 19 from the U.S., 16 from Egypt, 11 from Belgium and nine from Georgia.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Wednesday said his government wants to prevent a lockdown, but warned that if Israel’s health system will not be able to bear the rise in coronavirus cases there might not be any other alternative.
“Our goal is to keep Israel open, but we will not reach a situation where the hospitals say ‘we have no room, you cannot enter,'” he said during the opening of a new vaccination center in Yerushalayim.
“Our goal is to not end up at [a lockdown]. We know when to pull the brakes. In order to not implement harsher measures, we must get vaccinated. There are a million young people and another 1.2 million who have yet to receive their shot. If we wear masks and adhere to social distancing, we will succeed.”
His comments came after a Coronavirus Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, where ministers approved the resumption of the mandate for wearing masks out of doors in gatherings of more than 100 people, backed a return to working remotely where possible and canceled the exemption from the “Green Pass” for the under-12s who are yet to be part of the vaccination drive.
The “Green Pass” system means people have to show proof of vaccination, recent recovery from COVID or a new negative test in order to access many venues and workplaces.