19-year-old dies of coronavirus as death toll in Israel hits 315

Teen succumbs to COVID-19 days after hospitalization; medical center says she suffered from pre-existing conditions

A suspected coronavirus patient is evacuated to Hadassah Ein Karem Hospital in Jerusalem, on March 22, 2020. (Flash90)
A suspected coronavirus patient is evacuated to Hadassah Ein Karem Hospital in Jerusalem, on March 22, 2020. (Flash90)

A 19-year-old woman died on Saturday of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, putting Israel’s death toll at 315.

The young woman is said to have suffered from pre-existing medical conditions and succumbed to the disease on Saturday at Hadassah-Ein Kerem medical center in Jerusalem several days after she was first hospitalized.

She is Israel’s youngest fatality so far. Previously, a 26-year-old man who died two weeks ago from a rare complication of COVID-19 was Israel’s youngest victim.

The hospital said the 19-year-old suffered from obesity and high blood pressure, among other conditions, and required mechanical ventilation almost as soon as she was admitted this past week. “The patient was treated with the entire arsenal at the hospital’s disposal and with great dedication by the staff,” the hospital said in a statement cited by Channel 13 news.

The medical center added that the treatment included a passive vaccine.

A number of the healthcare workers who helped treat the patient have been tested for the virus, “and have entered isolation as required,” Hadassah Ein-Kerem said.

Israel has seen an increase in coronavirus infections in recent weeks, as the government began lifting restrictions on gatherings and closures of shops, eateries, malls and other public places. On Friday evening, the Health Ministry reported 400 new infections over the previous 24 hours, taking the national tally to 22,800. The number of active cases stood at 5,614.

Medical staff at the coronavirus unit in Ichilov hospital in Tel Aviv, on May 4, 2020. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

There were 46 people in serious condition, 28 of whom were on ventilators. Another 48 people were in moderate condition, with the rest experiencing only mild symptoms or none at all.

The numbers appeared to continue the rising trend in infection rates, with recent days showing 400-500 newly confirmed infections a day on average, numbers not seen since early April.

Channel 12 reported on Friday that police and inspectors throughout the country were engaged in increased enforcement Friday, handing out fines to those breaking Health Ministry guidelines, including businesses not adhering to rules and people failing to wear masks while in public.

The operation was particularly focused on recreational venues such as restaurants, cafes and event halls, which are more prone to mass gatherings and a lack of social distancing.

The latest jump in new infections came after experts reportedly warned ministers the country was on the brink of “losing control” over the renewed outbreak.

In a bid to stop the increase, the Knesset on Wednesday night advanced a bill to reinstate the Shin Bet surveillance program aimed at tracking virus carriers and those exposed to them — despite opposition from the agency itself to the move.

In addition, Defense Minister Benny Gantz ordered the IDF’s Home Front Command to open additional hotels for coronavirus patients and for quarantine purposes. The army is currently running six facilities for those infected and those who cannot adequately self-isolate at home.

Globally, nearly 10 million people across the world have been infected by the virus since the outbreak began in Wuhan, China in late December. Close to 500,000 have died of the disease, according to the latest figures. The United States leads the world in infection rates and fatalities with over 2.5 million confirmed cases and over 127,000 deaths as of Saturday.

Earlier Saturday, French newspaper Le Monde reported that as European states begin partially reopening their borders and allowing the tourism industry to restart, travelers from Israel may be barred.

The empty arrivals hall at Ben Gurion International Airport on June 12, 2020 (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

According to the French daily (French), the US, Russia, Turkey and Saudi Arabia are also on the list of countries considered to be in a more serious situation than the majority of European nations, and therefore travelers from those countries will also not be allowed into the bloc.

Earlier this month, an Israeli airliner became the first commercial flight to land in Cyprus as the country lifted an 11-week ban on flights. However, Israel has since seen a surge in virus infections.

According to the Haaretz daily, the Foreign Ministry is concerned that Israel is slipping down the world rankings of countries deemed desirable for reciprocal tourism agreements.

According to the Le Monde report, visitors from Australia, Canada, South Korea, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, Thailand, Uruguay, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Georgia, Montenegro and Serbia will be allowed to visit EU member states.

For travel purposes, Britain still counts as a member of the EU until the end of its post-Brexit transition period. Four non-EU countries are members of the bloc’s Schengen passport-free zone.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier this month that Israel has considered opening air travel with other countries that have low infection rates, including Greece and Cyprus, but since then infections in Israel have climbed.

Earlier this month, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades canceled a planned visit to Jerusalem, as the Mediterranean island nation expressed jitters over climbing coronavirus numbers in Israel.

EU envoys have argued for days on drawing up a list of criteria for reopening borders, with some member states worried about the reliability of coronavirus data, notably from China.

Sources told AFP that national governments were given until Saturday afternoon to approve the list of countries.

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