Israel has surpassed the U.S. in coronavirus cases per capita, according to data released Monday from Johns Hopkins University.
A total of 20,562 per one million people in Israel are currently infected with the virus, compared to 20,475 per one million people in the US.
Israel’s death rate per million inhabitants is currently at 137, compared to the world average of 123.3.
The country is in a three-week nationwide lockdown that began on Friday in an attempt to bring down daily infection rates.
“Israel has been one of the leading countries in the world in infected people per capital for a while,” said Prof. Ronit Calderon-Margalit from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem School of Public Health, adding the increase had nothing to do with more tests being conducted.
“The rate of those who test positive is approximately 11 percent and that is high in relation to the rest of the world,” she said.
Israel’s coronavirus czar Ronni Gamzu on Monday ordered hospitals to add additional virus wards as two national medical centers began turning away patients for lack of room. Most major hospitals around the country have surpassed 100 percent capacity in their coronavirus wards.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Monday also ordered the IDF to establish a field hospital to take on some of the load.
According to Gamzu, Israel would see 600 deaths per month, including in young people. “It is ravaging the country,” he told the Kan public broadcaster.
Israel received global acclaim after being one of the first countries to spot the dangers early on and take precautions, including closing its borders, imposing a national lockdown as early as March and using controversial anti-terror technology to track confirmed cases.
It fared well during the first wave and was down to a dozen new cases a day but many critics said schools and businesses opened too early.