The Health Ministry on Thursday evening reported 668 positive coronavirus tests over the past 24 hours, the largest daily increase since early April.
The ministry also announced an additional fatality from COVID-19, bringing the death toll to 309.
The number of active cases rose above 6,000, with 47 people in serious condition, including 29 on ventilators. Another 52 Israelis were in moderate condition and the rest had mild or no symptoms.
The Health Ministry said 17,697 tests were carried out on Wednesday. The figure was lower than Tuesday, when 19,533 tests were administered, the highest daily number since the outbreak began.
A total of 186 people were hospitalized due to the virus, and 16,007 had recovered.
The increase in new confirmed infections was the largest since April 3, when there were a record 819 cases confirmed over 24 hours.
With the number of cases continuing to rise, cabinet ministers were expected to approve imposing restrictions in the central coastal city of Bat Yam to contain the spread of coronavirus there, the Tel Aviv suburb’s mayor said.
According to Health Ministry figures, Bat Yam has recorded 40 new COVID-19 cases over the past three days, marking a 12 percent rise in infections. There have been 373 confirmed cases in Bat Yam since the start of the pandemic, 204 of which are active.
To halt the rise, Mayor Tzvika Brot proposed a series of measures to halt the rise in new infections, which he said the government was set to vote on later Thursday.
Among the limitations he floated was closing the city’s beaches between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., limiting indoor gatherings to 10 people and closing synagogues, upping enforcement of social distancing rules, and setting up additional testing stations.
If approved, Brot said the restrictions would come into effect Friday.
“You don’t need to be alarmed. Yes, you need to behave responsibly,” he wrote on Facebook. “We beat the coronavirus in the first wave and we’ll do so again now.”
Ministers earlier this week weighed imposing strict restrictions on Bat Yam, but did not end up designating the city a “restricted zone” as they did with Elad and parts of Tiberias. There are particular concerns about Bat Yam, which has a relatively older population in comparison with other outbreak areas.
Ministers were also expected to approve restrictions on three neighborhoods in the southern port city of Ashdod, which has also seen a marked rise in new cases.
The restrictions will include the closure of synagogues, educational institutions and event halls, as well a ban on events with more than 10 people.
The Kan public broadcaster said the Health Ministry was pushing for restrictions to be imposed nationwide, but ministers were only expected to approve targeted measures when they convene later Thursday or Friday.
The latest jump in new infections came after experts reportedly warned ministers the country was on the brink of “losing control” over the renewed outbreak.
In a bid to stop the increase, the Knesset on Wednesday night advanced a bill to reinstate the Shin Bet surveillance program aimed at tracking virus carriers and those exposed to them — despite the opposition of the agency itself to the move.
In addition, Defense Minister Benny Gantz ordered the IDF’s Home Front Command to open additional hotels for coronavirus patients and for quarantine purposes. The army is currently running six facilities for those infected and those who cannot adequately self-isolate at home.
TIMES OF ISRAEL