Israel’s Health Ministry on Sunday ordered hospitals to prepare for a second wave of coronavirus as infections climbed to over 300 per day.
The ministry diagnosed 341 cases over the past 24 hours, the highest daily figure in Israel since April. Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 20,686 total cases, including 4,716 currently active cases.
At the start of the weekly cabinet meeting Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned, “If we do not stick to face masks and social distancing, we will bring back the closures and no one wants that.”
Officials will meet on Monday to discuss new measures intended to prevent a devastating second outbreak.
On Saturday, the Israel Defense Forces’ Coronavirus National Information and Knowledge Center said that the country has already entered a second wave of infections and warned that if immediate steps were not taken to bring numbers down, the country could face a thousand new cases a day and hundreds of new deaths within a month.
Some officials however, have distanced themselves from the report.
Dr. Hagai Levine, chairman of the Israeli Association of Public Health Physicians and an epidemiologist at Hebrew University’s Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine, rejected the report, saying it was “unprofessional.”
Questions linger over who exactly is responsible for the coronavirus taskforce, with both the IDF and Health Ministry placing responsibility over it on each other.
Meanwhile on Friday, the Israel Institute for Biological Research published a paper in which it claims to have successfully tested a COVID-19 vaccine on hamsters, with a 100 percent survival rate. The laboratory could start human trials within a few months.