A laborer sanitizes the stones of the Western Wall as part of measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Jerusalem’s Old City, March 31, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Ammar Awad.

JNS.org – As Israel saw its 21st coronavirus fatality on Wednesday and the number of confirmed infections in the country hit 5,591, the Israel National Employment Service (INES) announced that the number of unemployment claimants has exceeded one million for the first time.

Israel’s 21st coronavirus casualty was a 98-year-old woman who had “serious and complicated” preexisting conditions and had been hospitalized at the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheva. According to Israel’s Health Ministry, she represents the second victim to have contracted the virus at the Mishan nursing home in southern Jerusalem, with 12 other residents also testing positive, at least three of whom are currently in serious condition.

By Wednesday, more than NIS 1.5 million ($422,000) had been raised by Lod residents for the orphaned 4-year-old twins of 49-year-old Lod resident Tamar Peretz-Levi, who was hospitalized with coronavirus for less than a week before passing away on Tuesday. Her husband died three years ago of a heart attack.

Of Israel’s 5,591 cases, 97 are in serious condition, with 76 on ventilators. Another 122 are in moderate condition and 5,121 have minor symptoms, according to the ministry. Some 226 Israeli coronavirus patients have recovered.

As Israel’s medical establishment battles the epidemic, INES Director-General Rami Garor said on Wednesday that nearly 90 percent of the more than one million Israelis now claiming unemployment benefits have been placed on unpaid leave. Israel’s unemployment figure, which before the crisis stood at 4 percent, has now reached over 24 percent, with nearly 850,000 people applying for benefits since March.