Israel has recorded 1,055 new cases of coronavirus since midnight, the Health Ministry said Wednesday evening, just hours after Health Minister Yuli Edelstein warned that a failure bring down the high number of daily infections would lead to a new lockdown within days.
The number of nationwide cases since the beginning of the pandemic is now at 43,668 and the death toll at 375. Two people have succumbed to the disease since midnight.
Out of the 23,399 people currently battling COVID-19, 205 are in serious condition, an increase of 22 since Tuesday. There are now 57 people on ventilators, an increase of one in the past day.
Edelstein told Ynet earlier Wednesday that barring a miracle, Israel would be heading back into full lockdown within days.
The minister said he hoped the measures taken to mitigate the spread, including limiting numbers permitted to gather at events and in restaurants and imposing closures on hard-hit areas, would result in lower infections.
"If that happens, we would be able to postpone a decision [to return to lockdown]," he said.
"We will have to wait three or four days to see, but that would be a miracle."
Edelstein rejected criticism that the government had not taken steps to prepare for the second wave of coronavirus spread or that a lockdown would be an admission of failure on the part of authorities, claiming a lockdown is a measure to be taken in order to bring the number of daily infections down.
Also Wednesday, the National Association of Nurses announced it will launch a general strike starting Monday, July 20, in protest of manpower shortages during the coronavirus pandemic, which they say have made it impossible to continue their work.
In an open letter to directors of the health funds and the Health Ministry, the association's chair Ilana Cohen said that the step was taken "out of national responsibility and in order to prevent the collapse of the nurses' apparatus and safe human lives."
According to Health Ministry data, 759 nurses have entered quarantine since Sunday. In compression, only 124 nurses had to enter isolation during June.