JERUSALEM, Israel – The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Israel spiked dramatically over the last 24 hours and the number is expected to rise even higher.
The Health Ministry announced on Wednesday that 76 people have been diagnosed with the coronavirus. Two people contracted the virus from an “unknown origin,” increasing concerns of widespread transmission.
Most infected individuals (63) have been hospitalized and one Israeli bus driver is in serious condition, The Jerusalem Post reports.
Israel is rigorously preparing for more cases and is working to make sure its hospitals and health infrastructures are not overwhelmed by the expected increase in cases. Health officials are hoping that the better prepared they are to accommodate the cases, the high everyone’s chance of survival is.
Israeli media reports that the Health Ministry has ordered 1,000 new respirators and the IDF has called an additional 100 reservists to help the Magen David Adom ambulance service. Magen David Adom announced Wednesday that paramedics would begin making house calls and help doctors examine patients remotely.
The ambulance service says it had been working on this remote initiative for years but was forced to accelerate it after the coronavirus broke out.
“We’ve been planning a community medicine program for three years,” said Eli Bin, Magen David Adom’s director-general. “But the need for this type of initiative has become much more urgent in light of the current coronavirus crisis, where taking a patient to the hospital presents serious risks — especially when the patient might not be severely ill, but can still be highly contagious, potentially putting immunocompromised patients at the hospital in danger.”
On Tuesday, Israel ramped up its efforts to contain the spread of the virus by requiring anyone who enters the country to enter quarantine for 14 days.
“This is a difficult decision but it is essential to maintaining public health, which takes precedence over everything,” said Netanyahu. “This decision will be in effect for two weeks. At the same time, we will make decisions to safeguard the Israeli economy."
The tourism industry is already feeling the effects of the measure.
“I have already a couple of cancellations,” Israeli tour guide Zvika Groner told CBN News. “Groups will not show up. If they have to be isolated for two weeks, they cannot come for a week.”
More than 113,000 people have been infected and more than 3,900 have died of the COVID-19 illness it causes. Most of the cases are in China, but its proportion is shrinking as the virus spreads elsewhere. More than 62,000 people have already recovered.