The Health Ministry said late Saturday that 13.7 percent of coronavirus tests had come back positive in the prior 24 hours, with more than 9,200 new cases reported, a record. About 750 people were in critical condition, nearing the 800-patient threshold at which officials have warned that the health care system could collapse.
There were also ominous-sounding reports that the virus was beginning to afflict younger people in greater numbers. Eran Segal, a scientist at the Weizmann Institute, noted a decline in the median age of the deceased.
“It is not clear why,” he wrote on Twitter. “Better care for adults? Or worse care for young people? Or worse care for all because of the load?”
And in Bnei Brak, Dr. Eliyahu Sorkin, director of intensive care at Mayanei Hayeshua Medical Center, said that 40 percent of its most serious patients, many of them needing respirators, were now age 19 to 50. “This is a completely new thing,” he said. “We do not know this disease.”
With Yom Kippur’s day of fasting and somber remembrance starting Sunday evening, Israel’s president, Reuven Rivlin, composed a prayer with which he called on Israelis and Jews worldwide to remember the pandemic’s victims in Israel — “those pioneers and founders, Holocaust survivors, veteran immigrants, fighters and creators, students of Torah and worshipers of the Lord, Jews and Arabs, old and young.”
“May we be forgiven for the sin of weakness and inability, for not doing enough, for not managing to save them,” Mr. Rivlin said. “Because of that, lives were lost.”
In other global developments:
In Madrid, about 1,000 protesters took to the streets on Sunday to demand an end to a partial lockdown imposed by the regional government last Monday on about a million residents of specific neighborhoods, most of them in working-class suburbs. While the Madrid authorities have argued that the lockdown was needed to contain a second wave of infections, the decision has sparked protests and outrage among residents who consider it discriminatory. That viewpoint was bolstered on Friday when Spain’s health minister, Salvador Ila, said that Madrid should instead have introduced stricter restrictions across the whole capital region.
Britain could end up “caught in a cycle of epidemic waves” without further restrictions, a member of the government’s scientific advisory board has warned. The adviser, Jeremy Farrar, wrote in the Times of London that tightened measures announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson this past week were a “fudge” and would “neither deliver an open economy nor save lives.” Mr. Farrar called for a ban on people from different households meeting indoors, and said another closure of restaurants, pubs, gyms, places of worship and nonessential shops should also be considered as the country tries to arrest a steep climb in infections.
South Korea on Sunday called for a joint investigation into the death of a South Korean official who was killed by North Korean troops who discovered him floating in North Korean waters. South Korea said that the official was trying to defect and that the troops shot him and set his body on fire on the unsubstantiated fear that he might be infected with the virus. The North disputes key parts of that account. “Since there are gaps in the findings by South and North Korea, we request a joint investigation so we can establish the truth as soon as possible,” said Suh Choo-suk, a deputy director of national security in South Korea.