Coronavirus ward (illustrative)
Coronavirus ward (illustrative)David Cohen/Flash90

Israel's Health Ministry on Thursday morning reported that the number of severe coronavirus cases had reached 603.

At the same time, the Ministry reported that 7,856 new coronavirus cases were diagnosed on Wednesday, representing 5.50% of the coronavirus test results received.

There are currently 62,163 active coronavirus cases, and the country has so far seen 6,726 coronavirus deaths, including 17 who died on Tuesday and four who died Wednesday.

Nearly one thousand (994) coronavirus patients are hospitalized, including the 603 who are in serious condition, of whom 149 are in critical condition, with 106 patients intubated.

Earlier this month, the Health Ministry said that if Israel reaches 600-700 severe coronavirus cases, the country will need to lock down in order to avoid overwhelming the hospitals.

The reason for this is that Israel's hospitals are able to properly care for just 1,200 coronavirus patients, and reaching the Ministry benchmark would signal that hospitals would reach maximum capacity within the coming weeks.

In response Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett suggested increasing hospitals' capacities as an alternative to lockdown. However, hospitals have yet to see the fruits of this promise, which was reported to be conditional on directors refraining from discussing the true situation in their coronavirus wards with the media.

While Dr. Michael (Miki) Halberthal, director of Haifa's Rambam Health Care Campus, said that Bennett did not demand anything from him, he also said that senior government officials demanded that he drop the standards of care in order to accommodate the expected overload of patients.

Meanwhile, it has become clear that 45% of Israelis back a lockdown, but just 30% would "definitely" follow orders if one were imposed. At the same time, the government is unlikely to announce its decision on the matter until one week before the holidays start.