Israel smashed its daily coronavirus record with 4,973 cases diagnosed on Monday, according to the Ministry of Health, surging past the previous record of 4,217 set last week. Israel is also seeing new highs in the number of severe cases with 533 serious cases and 140 patients on ventilators.
Deputy Health Minister, Yoav Kisch, speaking on Israel’s Channel 12 News Tuesday morning, warned the country could see deaths “like there were in New York and Italy, God forbid,” urging people to heed the imminent restrictions.
The new record comes three days before Israel is set to enter a second general lockdown to bring the numbers under control, making it perhaps the first country in the world to reimpose a general lockdown. Although not as strict as the first lockdown in April, the new restrictions, scheduled to last three weeks through the Jewish high holidays, will see the closure of schools, restaurants (except delivery), entertainment venues and more. Gatherings will be limited to 20 people outdoors and 10 people indoors.
The record also comes with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington DC for a signing ceremony of normalization agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. The ceremony itself has sparked concerns over the spread of coronavirus, since the White House is expecting a crowd of hundreds of people and is not requiring the wearing of masks, which is obligatory in Israel.
“We are expecting to keep it as distanced as possible,” a senior White House official told CNN.