As case numbers drop, Israel’s largest hospital closes 2 coronavirus wards

Health Ministry said not allowing Sheba Medical Center to return wards to normal function in case there is another virus surge; most patients now under 60

Illustrative: A medical team at a coronavirus ward of  the Sheba Medical Center, in Ramat Gan, July 27, 2020. (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)
Illustrative: A medical team at a coronavirus ward of the Sheba Medical Center, in Ramat Gan, July 27, 2020. (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)

As coronavirus cases in Israel continue to drop, the country’s largest hospital closed two coronavirus wards on Sunday, Channel 13 news reported.

The Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, however, will not yet be able to transform them back to regular wards as the Health Ministry is insisting they be kept ready in case there is a fresh surge in cases, the report said.

And hospital officials said they were still dealing with a number of serious cases among younger people.

“Today I had to resuscitate a 47-year-old patient and a 51-year-old. These are not exceptions, these are the average ages of patients in our wards now” Dr. Gadi Segal, the head of internal medicine at the hospital, told Army Radio. “I believe this is due to the lower vaccine distribution among these age groups.”

In recent days Israel has seen a drop in cases, largely attributed to its successful vaccine program.

As of Sunday night, 90% of Israelis over 60 have been vaccinated (152,000 have not), according to the Health Ministry. Over half a million Israelis between 40 and 60 have yet to be vaccinated (73% have been inoculated). Half of the population between 16 and 40 have been inoculated, with 1.5 million yet to get the shots.

An Israeli woman receives aCovid-19 vaccine, at a vaccination center in Safed, on February 14, 2021. (David Cohen/Flash90)

According to the Health Ministry, on Sunday night, there were 55,720 active virus cases in the country, including 1,875 diagnosed on Saturday. The Health Ministry data said 1,008 patients are in serious condition, including 284 on ventilators. The death toll stood 5,378.

According to figures released by the Military Intelligence task force, Israel’s R-value, the reproduction number of the virus that measures transmission, dropped from 1.0 last week to 0.85. The number of serious patients was also on the decline, the task force reported, with the number down 125 since last week, when there were 1,133 patients in serious condition.

But the data also showed a noticeable increase in serious cases among those under 60, who this week constituted about 40% of all serious patients. At the same time, there is a clear decline in the rate of severe morbidity among those 60 and over.

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