Sixty-one people in Israel have succumbed to COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, the Health Ministry said Thursday evening, as the country faced the prospect of further drastic measures to stem the spread of the deadly virus.
Of the 56,307 tests conducted in the past 24 hours, the ministry said, 13.6%, or 1 in seven, returned positive results.
The ministry said there were 685 COVID-19 patients in serious condition at hospitals across the country, including 175 people on ventilators.
Since the onset of the pandemic in Israel, a total of 209,635 Israelis have contracted the virus, with 1,378 succumbing to complications from the disease, seven of them since midnight.
The Knesset convened Thursday afternoon to rush through the approval of tighter coronavirus restrictions set to come into effect on Friday for a period of two weeks.
The new restrictions, which aim to reduce Israel's soaring infection rate, were approved by the cabinet on Wednesday amid warnings from ministers that the cost to the economy could reach NIS 35 billion (approx. $10 billion).
Israel is already under a less stringent closure that came into effect last week, which saw limits placed on commerce, social gatherings and cultural events in an effort to reduce the number of daily coronavirus infections that in recent days has hovered around an alarming 7,000 mark.
The tightened lockdown was to include the closure of all non-essential industry and businesses, strict restrictions on travel, movement, and congregation, closure of houses of prayer with worship allowed outdoors in groups of no more than 20 people.
First published: 20:41, 09.24.20