Israel’s death toll rises to 60 as coronavirus cases top 9,000
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Israel’s death toll rises to 60 as coronavirus cases top 9,000

80-year-old man who succumbed to illness had been in serious condition for weeks; amid concerns of nationwide shortage, Health Ministry chief says 3,000 ventilators available

Illustrative: Magen David Adom medics wearing protective clothing, as a preventive measure against the coronavirus transfer a patient to the new coronavirus unit at Shaare Zedek hospital in Jerusalem on April 6, 2020. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)
Illustrative: Magen David Adom medics wearing protective clothing, as a preventive measure against the coronavirus transfer a patient to the new coronavirus unit at Shaare Zedek hospital in Jerusalem on April 6, 2020. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

The death toll in Israel from the coronavirus pandemic climbed to 60 on Tuesday, with over 9,000 infections recorded by the Health Ministry.

Among the three new victims since Monday night was an 80-year-old man who died in central Israel on Tuesday. The man, who had unspecified underlying illnesses, had been hospitalized at the Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva. He had been sedated and on a ventilator for several weeks prior to his death, the hospital said.

On Tuesday, the Ichilov Medical Center in Tel Aviv said a 95-year-old woman with preexisting health issues succumbed to the virus.

The third fatality, who died late Monday, was not immediately identified.

According to the ministry, 9,006 people were sick with the virus as of Tuesday morning, 153 of them seriously. Of the serious cases, 113 were on ventilators. Another 181 people were in moderate condition, with the remaining patients showing mild symptoms. The updated figures marked a rise of 102 cases since the previous evening.

The death Tuesday came after eight fatalities from the virus were reported a day earlier and as officials say they scrambling to secure more medical equipment amid a furious global battle over ventilators, masks, test kits and other essentials in the fight against the virus.

Health Ministry Director General Moshe Bar Siman-Tov said Tuesday that Israel had secured enough ventilators to bring the country’s count of the machines up to 3,000.

A Knesset report last month said the country had just 1,437 spare ventilators, though the Health Ministry had disputed that number and said 2,864 spare ventilators were available.

There are currently over 100 Israelis in serious condition from the virus who are on ventilators.

“We managed to reach 3,000 available ventilators, and there will be more,” the top health official told Army Radio.

He did not specify the source of the new ventilators.

Almost all of those who have died from the disease in Israel have been elderly and suffered from pre-existing conditions, according to hospital officials.

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

A top medical expert said Sunday that a slowing in the rise of cases in the past few days was encouraging: New cases had been doubling every six days until recently, he said, and now only every 11 days.

Experts are also pointing to the relatively slow rise in the number of patients on ventilators as a source of potential encouragement.

The Magen David Adom national emergency service drive through test complex in Ashdod on April 1, 2020 (Flash90)

Putting a dent in the optimism, health officials are projecting that Israel will fall short of testing 10,000 people a day for the novel coronavirus in the immediate term because of a shortage of a key reagent.

Still, officials said Sunday that Israel was looking at solutions — including local production of the reagent — that could boost the testing up to 10,000 people a day and beyond.

Ministers on Tuesday were meeting to approve a national lockdown over the Passover holiday, including a full closure over the first night of the holiday on Wednesday, to prevent further spread of the virus.

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