106 Israelis on ventilators

3 more Israelis die of virus, bringing death toll to 47 as cases top 8,000

84-year-old woman is 6th resident of Beersheba assisted living facility to succumb to COVID-19; man and woman in 60s both said to have had underlying health issues

Magen David Adom workers wearing protective clothing as a preventive measure against the coronavirus evacuate a patient with suspected coronavirus outside a coronavirus unit at Shaare Zedek hospital in Jerusalem on April 3, 2020. ( Nati Shohat/Flash90)
Illustrative: Magen David Adom workers wearing protective clothing, as a preventive measure against the coronavirus evacuate a patient with suspected coronavirus outside the new coronavirus unit at Shaare Zedek hospital in Jerusalem on April 3, 2020. ( Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Israel’s death toll from the coronavirus rose to 47 Sunday morning with the passing of an 84-year-old woman from the Mishan nursing home in Beersheba, the sixth fatality from the assisted living facility, and a 63-year-old man and 61-year old woman both said to have had underlying health issues.

Beersheba’s Soroka Medical Center, Jerusalem’s Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital and Holon’s Wolfson Medical Center announced the deaths, respectively.

The first victim was named as Dalia Salmona, who worked as a head nurse at Beersheba’s Soroka Medical Center until her retirement. She reportedly suffered from dementia. She is survived by three children and her grandchildren.

The 63-year-old man was named as Bentzion Kofershtock, known at “the father of Meron” due to his volunteer work providing food for visitors at the grave of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai.

Holon’s Wolfson Medical Center said the 61-year-old woman, whose name has not yet been released, was brought in late last month from a geriatric hospital’s rehabilitation ward, and suffered from preexisting conditions.

The Health Ministry said Sunday that 8,018 people have been confirmed to be infected with the coronavirus in Israel, an increase of 429 from 24 hours earlier.

Dr. Nelia Kravitz, who died after contracting the coronavirus at the Mishan assisted living facility in Beersheba (Courtesy)

There are 127 people in serious condition and 106 on ventilators, which appears not to be an increase over figures from Saturday evening. A total of 477 people have recovered from the virus.

With the death toll from residents at the Mishan assisted living facility continuing to rise, relatives of the residents say they are planning to file a lawsuit against the facility’s managers and the Health Ministry for alleged medical malpractice.

“The Health Ministry as a regulator has not supervised and kept watch. They saved money instead of caring for the elderly,” a representative of residents’ families told the Kan public broadcaster Sunday morning.

In total, there have been at least 42 cases of the virus among residents and staff members.

In the suit, the relatives will allege that the facility’s residents were neglected, causing them to be infected by the virus, and that medical staff and Health Ministry officials did not take steps to separate them or check for the coronavirus, Channel 12 reported.

The families also claim that some residents’ initial complaints of pain and fevers — symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus — were not taken seriously and that additional people living at Mishan and staff members were infected because quarantine measures weren’t taken, the network reported.

They also reportedly allege that virus tests weren’t conducted for residents and staff with symptoms of COVID-19.

On Saturday, 88-year-old Holocaust survivor Dr. Nelia Kravitz, 88, who worked as a physician at Soroka Medical Center for 20 years, became the fifth victim from the Mishan facility in Beersheba.

The Nofim Tower assisted living center in Jerusalem has also been hard hit by the virus outbreak, with four fatalities from the facility.

In figures released Friday morning, the ministry said the highest number of cases across the country was recorded in Jerusalem (1,003), followed by the ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak (966) and Tel Aviv-Jaffa (335). Bnei Brak, one-quarter the size of the capital by population, was closed off by police on Friday morning to stem the outbreak.

Magen David Adom and Shaarei Tzedek hospital medical workers in Jerusalem, wearing protective clothing, seen with an ultra-Orthodox man at the hospital’s new coronavirus unit on April 2, 2020. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

A senior Health Ministry official on Saturday called for additional areas in Israel with a high number of cases to be declared restricted zones, allowing the government to further curtail movement in these places in a bid to limit the virus’s spread.

Among the cities the official cited to Hebrew media were several with predominantly ultra-Orthodox populations, such as Elad and the West Bank settlement of Modiin Illit, as well as several Haredi neighborhoods in Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh.

However, Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar Siman-Tov also struck a cautiously optimistic note on Saturday, following reports that officials believe the current rate of infection in the country is rising at a relatively controlled rate and shows signs of remaining within levels that the health system can tolerate.

“The fact that we are holding discussions about an exit strategy from the crisis is a privilege,” he said.

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