Israeli Health Ministry Director General Hezi Levi on Monday called on the country’s hospitals to cease performing elective procedures and to take urgent steps to handle the country’s steadily rising coronavirus morbidity rate.

In a letter sent to the heads of all hospitals in the country, Levy urged them to open additional COVID-19 wards to help deal with what he called “one of the most complex emergencies ever experienced by the health system,” Channel 12 reported.

“As such, I expect everyone to act with determination, as well as with personal and mutual responsibility,” he added.

Levy’s directive came as a spike in COVID-19 morbidity and mortality, and in the number of critically ill patients, has spurred the ministry to set up a headquarters for coordinating the hospitalization of coronavirus patients across the country, which will operate for 24 hours a day, according to the report.

The letter was sent on the fourth day of the nationwide lockdown that was imposed on Friday afternoon and is scheduled to last for at least three weeks. It is the second such lockdown since the first wave of the virus in March and April.

As of Monday afternoon, the ministry had recorded 188,760 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 51,503 of which are currently active. There are 651 patients in serious condition, with 160 on ventilators; 260 in moderate condition, and 1,260 people have died of the virus.

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