Israel faced a spiraling coronavirus crisis Monday evening, as the Health Ministry announced that three more people have died from COVID-19 - bringing the death toll to 334 - and five more patients were put on ventilators, for a total of 35.
Since midnight, 691 new patients were diagnosed, bringing the number of those currently battling the virus to 12,359. Of that number, 349 people are being treated in hospital and 88 are described as being in serious condition.
After the government voted to reimpose closure of bars, gyms, public pools, night clubs, and event halls and restrict the numbers of people allowed in restaurants, on buses and at synagogues, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein told the Knesset that the new measures must be put into effect immediately.
The Prime Minister's Office however insisted the Knesset must approve most of the measures, with the vote expected later Monday evening.
"The virus is changing its behavior and we must adjust ours accordingly," Edelstein told Knesset members.
In a press conference held by the Health Ministry Edelstein announced he would be appointing a coronavirus tsar to coordinate the entire operational response to the pandemic from testing and tracing to all other aspects of the crisis.
The minister said he will increase the manpower available to respond to the public's questions and requests including military personnel from the Home Front Command.
He also said the ministry's epidemiological investigations would be increased to sever the chains of contagion and limit the spread of the virus.
Local media reported earlier that the ministry was intending to instruct hospitals to close down outpatient clinics and increase coronavirus wards to meet the emerging needs due to the increased contagion.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened the so-called coronavirus cabinet in the afternoon hours to approve the outline presented by the Health Ministry.
"We must take immediate steps," Netanyahu said, warning Israel was a close enduring another total lockdown.
The government's decisions were guided by a Health Ministry's estimation that the rate of infection reported in Israel last week was among the highest in the world.
Only Switzerland, Australia and Serbia had a steeper rise in confirmed COVID-19 cases representing a 12% increase.
In Israel as in Japan the Czech Republic, Austria and Algeria had a 10% increase of new cases.
First published: 20:25 , 07.06.20