Hospital staff provide medical care for patients at a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) ward, amid a surge in new cases that has forced Israel into a second nationwide lockdown, at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center (Ichilov), Tel Aviv, Israel, Sept. 21, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Ronen Zvulun.

JNS.org – Israel’s daily tally of coronavirus deaths per million people surpassed that of the United States on Tuesday for the first time since the onset of the global pandemic.

According to a report by a task force formed by the Israel Defense Forces’ Military Intelligence Directorate, the number of Israelis who test positive for coronavirus on a daily basis is currently the highest in the world.

The daily deaths per capita are calculated by the task force as an average over the past week. According to the data, Israel’s daily death rate over the last week has been 3.5 per million people, while the US rate was some 2.2 per million.

While Israel was praised for quelling the outbreak successfully when it first hit, recent weeks have seen morbidity and mortality spike, requiring the government to impose a second nationwide lockdown in an effort to curb the spread of the virus.

As of Tuesday, there were 66,566 active COVID-19 cases in Israel, 772 of them serious, with 209 people on ventilators, according to the Israeli Health Ministry. The death toll since the onset of the pandemic stood at 1,507.

Of the 6,795 COVID-19 tests administered on Monday, 14.3 percent were positive, according to Health Ministry data. While the number of tests carried out on Monday was especially low due to the Yom Kippur holiday, Sunday’s figures were nearly identical, with 14.2 percent of 24, 120 COVID-19 tests being positive.

Israeli Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said on Tuesday that it was highly likely that the nationwide lockdown imposed before the High Holidays will be extended past its current Oct. 10 deadline.

Speaking with Israel Radio, Edelstein also made it clear that this time, lockdown measures would be lifted much more gradually than in May.

“The lockdown will not be lifted unequivocally. There is no scenario that in 10 days we will lift all of them [the restrictions] and say, ‘everything is over, everything is fine,”‘ he said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday evening that the government was preparing the country’s healthcare system to accommodate some 1,500 seriously ill coronavirus patients in the coming days.

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