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Coronavirus cases in Israel rise to 3,619 with 54 people in serious condition

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Israel rose to 3,619 people, the Health Ministry announced Saturday evening.

The tally included 54 patients in serious condition, of whom 43 are attached to ventilators.
Another 81 are in moderate condition and the rest have mild symptoms.

The ministry said a majority of patients, 1,828, were isolating in their homes under monitoring and 484 were currently hospitalized. The remainder were in various care facilities, including the specially converted hotels.

Twelve people have died in Israel from the virus, and on Saturday the Foreign Ministry announced an 82-year-old Israeli tourist died in an Italian hospital after he contracted the virus.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Friday that the country could enter into a complete shutdown if there isn’t an improvement in the number of confirmed virus cases in the next two days.

Netanyahu held a series of discussions with top ministers regarding additional steps the country can take to manage the ongoing crisis, “including preparations for a closure,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.

He said that authorities would bring the additional movement restrictions before the cabinet in 48 hours.

Hebrew-language media reported serious disagreements between Netanyahu and other ministers over the need to shut down the economy amid Health Ministry fears that the upcoming Passover holiday would lead to an explosion of infections as people try and shop for the festive meal or spend time with relatives.

The government will convene on Sunday to consider a number of new directives and moves including an economic aid package of NIS 5 billion ($1.4 billion) for small- and medium-sized businesses proposed by Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon.

Since Wednesday at 5 p.m., Israelis have been ordered to remain in their homes unless they are taking part in a small number of specially designated approved activities, including purchasing food and medicine or a short walk of no more than 100 meters (328 feet) from one’s home. Those found violating those regulations are subject to large fines of upwards of NIS 500 ($140) and even imprisonment.

Police were said on Saturday to have fined some 1,300 individuals and businesses found to be in violation of the regulations.

Some 500 soldiers will be deployed across the country beginning Sunday to assist police in enforcing the government’s latest restrictions on movement to stem the coronavirus pandemic, the Israel Defense Forces announced Friday.