Coronavirus death toll up to 302 as Tel Aviv flagged as new epicenter 

Source: Coronavirus death toll up to 302 as Tel Aviv flagged as new epicenter | The Times of Israel

Country’s economic hub now home to more active cases than anywhere outside Jerusalem; fatalities include man, 26, who was country’s youngest victim

Israelis, some wearing protective face masks and some not, in Tel Aviv on June 9, 2020. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Two people died of COVID-19 overnight, officials said Monday morning, bringing the nation’s death toll to 302 as the pace of new infections appeared to continue to ramp up in Tel Aviv and elsewhere.

The Prime Minister’s Office tallied 73 new coronavirus cases overnight, bringing the count to 19,128. Since Sunday morning there have been 120 new confirmed cases, according to the figures, which differed slightly from ones released by the Health Ministry.

Thirty-two patients are in serious condition, including 25 people on ventilators. There are over 3,400 active cases, marking a sharp increase from earlier this month, when the number of sick dropped below 2,000.

One of the two fatalities appeared to be a 26-year-old man who succumbed late Sunday, becoming the country’s youngest virus victim.

Oshri Asulin (Facebook)

Oshri Asulin, from Kfar Saba, was sedated and in intensive care for over a month before his death, Hebrew media reported. He died at Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, where he was being treated after developing a rare heart condition that has been reported in a small number of cases of children who also caught the virus.

There were no immediate details about the second victim.

The tally of 114 new cases came hours after the ministry confirmed that only 83 new cases were found from Saturday evening to Sunday evening, the lowest tally since June 6 and second lowest since the number of new virus cases began to rebound from just a handful daily at the start of the month.

Customers at cafes in Tel Aviv on June 2, 2020. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

According to official figures, Tel Aviv is seeing the fastest spread of the virus and is currently home to more active carriers than anywhere but Jerusalem, which has long been the country’s largest pandemic epicenter.

Nearly a third of the city’s approximately 400 cases have been linked to asylum-seekers in south Tel Aviv, Channel 12 news reported.

Police officers arrive to close synagogues in the city of Bnei Brak on April 1, 2020. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

The city had largely avoided the initial wave of the virus, which struck hardest in ultra-Orthodox communities that were slow to adhere to social distancing guidelines.

On Sunday, Sigal Sadetzky, the head of health services at the Health Ministry, told Knesset lawmakers that Israel was seeing the start of a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic after the government took steps over the last month to reopen the economy and roll back restrictions on movement.

“We had a long period of more than two weeks with a calm of less than 20 infections a day, and it started to climb and climb, and now we are seeing close to 200 new sick people a day,” Sadetzky said.

“What characterizes the wave we are seeing now is that it’s across the country. We don’t really know how to identify at-risk groups,” she said.

Jerusalemites wearing face masks on June 11, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Rather than being in a localized hotspots, “we see it running all around and spreading over a very wide geographical area,” she added.

Much of the resurgence of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, has been blamed on the education system, which has seen hundreds of cases in schools and kindergartens. The entire education system was shuttered for two months during the lockdown that began in mid-March.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report



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