Israel’s COVID-19 morbidity rate continues to rise, hitting another record from Monday to Tuesday with 4,973 confirmed positives, or 12 percent of all tests processed in that 24-hour period, according to the country’s Health Ministry.

Approximately 3,000 of the newly confirmed COVID-19 patients live in cities, towns, or local authorities coded either red or orange under Coronavirus Project Coordinator Ronni Gamzu’s “traffic light” plan.

Two coronavirus patients died of the virus in the early hours of Tuesday, bringing the national death toll to 1,141 since the start of the epidemic in Israel. The number of hospitalized patients listed in serious condition has jumped to 533, 140 of whom were on ventilators as of Tuesday morning, according to ministry data. There were 40,689 active or symptomatic patients in Israel.

The COVID units at the Galilee Medical Center, Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, Hadassah Mount Scopus, Assuta Ashdod and Hillel Yaffe were at or over full capacity.

Health Ministry Deputy Director-General Itamar Grotto addressed the shrinking number of available hospital beds at a press conference on Monday evening. According to Grotto, the ministry was assessing the situation and there was currently no order in place to cut back on activity, even though over-burdened hospitals in northern Israel and Jerusalem were starting to send patients to other hospitals in central Israel.

“We are dealing with a new disease with new complications and seeing more than a few young patients reach serious condition. The disease is spreading throughout the entire country, and if we don’t stop it, we will cause harm to more people. The longer we wait, the worse the situation will get,” said Grotto.

Touching on the nationwide lockdown slated to take effect on Friday, Grotto said, “The upcoming lockdown is planned for three weeks, with the instructions being not to go further than 500 meters [yards] from home, except for special reasons such as work, to receive medical care, to shop for food or to hand children over between divorced parents.”

Meanwhile, a new study, currently awaiting peer review, appears to confirm concerns that the SARS-CoV-2 virus can in some cases attack the brain, causing confusion and delirium.

Thus far, some patients who recovered from coronavirus have reported depression or other lasting effects, but the new study indicates for the first time that they might be directly linked to the virus.

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

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