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14th resident of Beersheba nursing home dies of virus; national toll reaches 126

Health Ministry announces 12,200 people infected with coronavirus; 176 patients in serious condition, with 132 of them on ventilators

The Mishan assisted living facility in Beersheba (Screen grab/Channel 13 news)
The Mishan assisted living facility in Beersheba (Screen grab/Channel 13 news)

Three more people have died of the coronavirus, the Health Ministry announced Wednesday morning, including the 14th victim of the pandemic at the Mishan assisted living facility in Beersheba.

Zamira Artzi, 82, had lived at the home in southern Israel for a number of years, Hebrew media reported.

“We weren’t able to say goodbye to her,” Artzi’s son told Channel 13, adding that the news of her death had come during the family meal for the Passover festival on Tuesday evening.

There were no details on the identities of the other two fatalities.

The Health Ministry said Wednesday morning there were 12,200 people infected with the virus.

The ministry said 176 people were in serious condition, 132 of them on ventilators. Another 173 were in moderate condition, with the vast majority displaying mild symptoms. The ministry said 2,309 have recovered from the virus.

The novel coronavirus has been spreading quickly in nursing homes around the country, raising intense concern for the safety of elderly residents. There have been 35 virus-related deaths in homes for the elderly, around 30 percent of fatalities in the country.

Soldiers of the Home Front Command Unit wearing full protective clothing seen at a nursing home in the city of Bnei Brak, April 14, 2020 (Flash90)

Police have reportedly opened an investigation into Mishan in Beersheba for allegedly neglecting residents amid the coronavirus outbreak.

According to Channel 13 news, police will probe Mishan for suspected neglect of helpless elderly people. The report said the investigation was opened after relatives of residents filed a police complaint against Mishan, which operates numerous assisted living facilities throughout Israel. Relatives of Mishan residents are also reportedly planning to file a lawsuit for alleged neglect.

Earlier this month, the Prime Minister’s Office asked the Defense Ministry and Home Front Command to assist the Health Ministry with operational aspects of nursing homes. In addition, the Health Ministry has appointed Ronni Gamzu, currently director general of Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center to coordinate between government departments and formulate a national plan of action for assisted living facilities as the death toll continued to rise.

Israeli police officers and Israeli soldiers close Begin road, near the entrance to Ramat Gan in Tel Aviv. April 14, 2020. ( Miriam Alster/Flash90)

On Tuesday, the Health Ministry said 9,459 coronavirus tests were administered between Sunday at midnight and Monday at midnight, marking a significant rise in testing but still falling short of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s stated goal of 30,000 daily tests.

Magen David Adom emergency services workers, wearing protective clothing, arrive to test residents of Jerusalem’s Nofim home for the elderly for Covid-19, March 27, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israel on Tuesday evening went into nationwide lockdown for the end of the Passover holiday and the Mimouna festival, which will see intercity travel banned and bakeries shuttered until Thursday morning, to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

The country’s health czar on Sunday evening warned Israelis against backsliding on their practice of social distancing and adherence to quarantine restrictions, saying the coronavirus could come back with a vengeance.

“I understand it’s hard to stay at home for so long, and the public is proving its ability to keep to the regulations and protect everyone’s families,” Health Ministry director Moshe Bar Siman-Tov said in a statement.

Israeli health officials were expecting a surge in coronavirus deaths in the next 10 days, according to a Friday report.

The rise in deaths does not signify an increase in infections, however. Patients who are already hospitalized and on ventilators are likely to succumb to the virus in the coming days, according to predictive models from the Health Ministry, Channel 13 reported.

Almost all of those who have died from COVID-19 in Israel have been elderly and suffered from preexisting conditions, according to hospital officials.

Experts have pointed to the relatively slow rise in the number of patients on ventilators as a source of potential encouragement, and also note the relatively slow rise in the number of new cases.

More than 119,000 people have died globally of the coronavirus.

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