29-year-old, already terminally ill, dies of virus, Israel’s youngest fatality

6 deaths take toll to 171 with 13,362 cases; fatalities include 18th death at assisted living facility in Yavne’el; locked-down Deir al-Asad sees 2nd-highest rate of infection

Magen David Adom workers wearing protective clothing with a patient with suspected coronavirus at Shaare Zedek hospital in Jerusalem on April 10, 2020 (Nati Shohat/Flash90)
Illustrative: Magen David Adom workers wearing protective clothing with a patient with suspected coronavirus at Shaare Zedek hospital in Jerusalem on April 10, 2020 (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

A 29-year-old woman with a terminal illness was one of six people who died of COVID-19 overnight and Sunday morning, as the coronavirus death toll in Israel rose to 171.

The woman died at Jerusalem’s Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center and was Israel’s youngest victim of the virus.

Another of the fatalities was an 85-year-old woman who died at the Baruch Padeh Medical Center in Tiberias. She was a resident of the Yokra assisted living facility in Yavne’el, making her the 18th person from there to die of the virus.

A 71-year-old man also died at the Baruch Padeh Medical Center in Tiberius. According to Hebrew reports, he was a resident of the “Nof Tiberius” assisted living facility in the city, the second fatality from that nursing home.

Nearly 40 percent of all deaths in Israel as a result of the pathogen have been residents of nursing homes.

In addition, a 96-year-old man died at Netanya’s Laniado Hospital and a 76-year-old woman also died at Jerusalem’s Hadassah Ein Kerem.

There were 14 total reported deaths on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the country’s infection figures rose by 106 since Saturday evening to 13,362.

There were 156 patients in serious condition with 109 of those on ventilators, continuing what appeared to be a downward trend.

The number of people in moderate condition was at 140, while 3,564 have recovered.

Bnei Brak continued to be the large community with the highest rate of infection, followed by the Arab Israeli community of Deir al-Asad in second place. A ministerial committee on Friday declared Deir al-Asad and Bi’ina as “restricted areas” amid fears of a coronavirus outbreak there.

The two adjacent towns in northern Israel, which are a single municipality, were locked down Saturday morning for seven days and testing was increased for residents of the area. Bnei Brak has also seen restrictions.

Police at a temporary checkpoint in the northern Arab Israeli town of Deir al-Asad, April 15, 2020. (Basel Awidat/Flash90)

The Health Ministry said Saturday it had tested 9,950 people for the virus on Friday. On Thursday a record 11,908 coronavirus tests were carried out. Test numbers have been hovering at around 7,000-10,000 a day over the past week. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he hopes to get to 30,000 tests a day, though that goal seems far off.

Increased testing is seen as vital to being able to slowly reopen the economy and ease social distancing restrictions on the population.

Officials have blamed shortages in test components on their difficulty in raising test numbers.

Magen David Adom workers wearing protective clothing disinfect their ambulance after taking care of a patient with a possible coronavirus infection on April 14, 2020 (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Efforts to hit the target received a boost with the Foreign Ministry saying it had signed a deal with Chinese company BGI that will see the firm send lab equipment to Israel by the end of this week, allowing a significant increase to the number of daily tests.

Netanyahu on Saturday evening announced the removal of some restrictions on industries, commerce and personal freedoms starting Sunday, as part of what he said was a careful and gradual process.

In the early hours of Sunday morning the cabinet approved the rollback, after reports of hours of bickering between ministers during long overnight telephone debates.

Outdoor prayers of up to 19 people will now be allowed (just short of two “minyans” or quorums), with two meters between worshipers, wearing masks.

Ministers also agreed on a NIS 200 fine for anyone caught more than once without a face mask in public.

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