The Health Ministry announced Saturday morning that 883 people in Israel have been diagnosed with the coronavius, an increase of 178 since Friday evening.
The ministry said 15 people were in serious condition, a day after the death of an 88-year-old man marked the country’s first fatality in the global pandemic.
The ministry also said 19 people were listed in moderate condition and that the rest had mild symptoms.
The Health Ministry says it has boosted testing for the virus from some 500-700 tests a day to around 2,200 per day and officials have said the number of tests would increase to 3,000 per day by Sunday and 5,000 per day by the following week.
The sharp rise in numbers of people diagnosed is at least partially attributable to increased testing throughout the country.
The head of the Israel Association of Biochemists, Microbiologists and Laboratory Workers on Friday accused the Health Ministry of not allowing medical laboratories around Israel to operate at full capacity during Shabbat, limiting the number of coronavirus tests they can perform. The Health Ministry denied the assertion.
The rise in numbers of people diagnosed came a day after Israel’s first fatality from the virus, who was named on Saturday as Aryeh Even.
Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center said he had been admitted in very serious condition with multiple preexisting conditions. Despite intensive treatment, including being resuscitated from heart failure, his state deteriorated rapidly and he died, the hospital said.
According to Hebrew media reports, Even, along with an 89-year-old Jerusalem woman fighting for her life in Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem, were among several residents of the Nofim senior home in Jerusalem who were diagnosed with the virus.
The condition of three other Israelis being treated at Wolfson Medical Center in Holon for COVID-19 deteriorated Friday, with all of them in serious to critical condition.
The three patients were a 67-year-old woman with a preexisting medical condition, a 91-year-old woman, and 45-year-old man with no past health problems, according to the Kan public broadcaster.
Shortly before midnight Friday, an 82-year-old man was transferred to Hasharon Medical Center in Petah Tikva in critical condition.
Also Friday, the condition of a 57-year-old man with COVID-19 at Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem in Jerusalem worsened. He was now listed in serious condition.
Meanwhile, the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa said the condition of a 70-year-old man with a background illness had deteriorated and that he was in serious condition, sedated and on a respirator. The hospital is treating two further patients in serious condition.
Israeli actor and comedian Tuvia Tzafir tested positive for the virus on Friday. The veteran TV personality was at an event recently with an another infected person, Channel 12 reported.
“His condition is good. He is isolated at home under medical supervision. He feels fine,” a spokesperson told the Ynet news site.
On Saturday, the Beitar Jerusalem soccer team announced that owner Moshe Hogeg had also been diagnosed with the virus and had only mild symptoms. The club did not say why Hogeg had been tested.
Israel has taken far-reaching measures to contain the virus and on Friday the cabinet authorized further stringent workplace restrictions, tightening the limit to just 30% of workers in both public and private sectors in a bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The new workplace restrictions come hours after new emergency regulations legalizing tough personal restrictions on movement went into effect Friday, after receiving cabinet approval overnight.
Ministers unanimously approved the measures, which made the limitations on movement announced earlier in the week legally binding and enforceable.
The restrictions dictate that Israelis should stay at home at all times unless for purposes of essential work, stocking up on food, medical issues or a limited number of permitted activities.
The disease generally only shows mild symptoms in the young and healthy, but can cause serious respiratory issues and death in older adults and those with underlying conditions.
Header: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits senior citizens living at a retirement home in Jerusalem on April 17, 2012. Credit: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO/Flash90.