Israel’s emergency services organisation this week said its call centres were registering a “significant increase” in inquiries, at almost three times its normal level.
Magen David Adom (MDA) took 16,237 calls this week, up 270 percent, as it revealed that its testing for coronavirus now stretched to around a tenth of the Israeli population, at 871,931 people.
MDA teams have been taking samples in private homes, clinics, hospitals, care homes, schools and drive-in centres, with paramedics and technicians sampling more than 73,000 people last week alone.
The country is currently experiencing the largest spike in coronavirus deaths since the outbreak began, with 1,819 new cases confirmed on Wednesday alone. A total of 643 Israelis have so far died of Covid-19, amid almost 89,000 confirmed infections.
Such is the severity of the country’s second wave, exacerbated by Netanyahu’s early relaxation of restrictions, that only four countries currently allow entry to Israelis.
Mass protests against Benjamin Netanyahu’s perceived mishandling of the crisis have continued throughout Israel’s major cities for several weeks, as aid agencies worry about the spread of the virus through the West Bank and Gaza, where hospitals are under far greater pressures.