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Pandemic pushes number of deaths in Israel in March-October up 9% from 2019

Government report shows 2,586 more people died than during this period last year — approximate number of virus fatalities; most significant excess mortality among 70-79 group

Chevra Kadisha workers wearing protective clothing carry the body of a patient who died from complications of COVID-19 at the Shamgar Funeral Home in Jerusalem on April 1, 2020 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Chevra Kadisha workers wearing protective clothing carry the body of a patient who died from complications of COVID-19 at the Shamgar Funeral Home in Jerusalem on April 1, 2020 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The death rate in Israel in March-October was 9 percent higher than a year earlier, and 10% higher than projections for 2020, amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to a government report on Thursday.

The data from the Central Bureau of Statistics showed that 2,586 more people died during the period as compared to 2019. That figure largely dovetails with the death toll from the pandemic, which hit 2,537 on October 31.

The report said the majority of excess deaths were logged in August-October, the approximate period of Israel’s second wave, with 960 in that last month alone. By the end of October, it said, 21% of all deaths were coronavirus-related.

The highest level of excess mortality, as compared to projections, was found among those aged 70 and 79, with a 17.3% increase, followed by those 80 and older, which was 11% higher, according to the CBS.

Clowns wearing protective equipment entertain a COVID-19 patient in the intensive care ward for coronavirus patients at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, Nov. 23, 2020. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

That finding challenged assessments some have made that many of the virus’s elderly victims would have succumbed to other preexisting illnesses regardless of the pandemic.

A previous CBS study had concluded that there was no significant excess death in Israel from the start of the year through July.

Israel hit 1,000 coronavirus deaths in early September, a figure which doubled by mid-October. As of Thursday, the death toll since the start of the pandemic stood at 2,890. The number of active cases stood at 11,660, with 292 people in serious condition, 85 of them on ventilators. Over 340,000 people have been diagnosed with the virus in Israel since March.

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