Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned ministers that the number of Israelis who will become sick with the coronavirus could reach one million.
In a late-night cabinet conference call, Netanyahu said there may be as many as 10,000 cases of the virus by next week.
"We may have 10,000 fatalities according to the Health Ministry's calculations," Netanyahu told ministers, "that is why we are increasing restrictions on the population."
The prime minister quoted German Chancellor Angela Merkel who warned 60-70% of Germany's population may be infected by the virus, but expressed his hope those with antibodies to resist coronavirus could be identified and returned to work. Merkel is in self-isolation after her doctor tested positive for the virus.
Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar-Siman-Tov warned ministers during the same call that Israel could be in as dire a situation as Italy if extreme measures are not taken estimating the number of coronavirus patients in need of ventilators will rise to the hundreds in a matter of one week and could reach thousands.
The government was expected to sanction more restrictive measures Tuesday that may include restrictions of all movements outside the home that is not for vital work or supplies and a ban on all public transport.
The Health Ministry confirmed on Tuesday morning that the country now has 1,656 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, an additional 234 cases since Monday night.
The Health Ministry's no. 2, Professor Itamar Grotto said Tuesday שכאקרמםםמ that he believed the only way to effectively stop the spread of coronavirus is to shut down all shops including for food and medicine and provide military rations to the Israelis.
"I understand this sounds like an extreme suggestion but the ministry's position is clear. it will, however, require the proper preparation before it can be put into effect," Grotto said.
First published: 14:58 , 03.24.20