A further deterioration was reported Sunday in the condition of Israel’s most serious coronavirus case, an East Jerusalem resident who is suffering from acute pneumonia and high fever.
The 38-year-old bus driver last month chauffeured a group of Greek tourists who were found to be infected after returning to Greece. He arrived Thursday at Baruch Padeh Medical Center in Tiberias suffering from high fever and having trouble breathing, and was quickly placed in quarantine.
His condition had deteriorated over the weekend and he was unconscious and breathing with a respirator. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Saturday that he was “fighting for his life.”
His conditioned worsened further on Sunday.
The hospital has announced that the patient spent less than ten minutes in the emergency room and that he had not been near other patients to an extent that requires their quarantine.
Twenty-five Israelis are currently known to be infected with the virus, the latest four of whom were announced on Saturday night.
Channel 13 reported that hundreds of suspected cases in Israel were not checked over the weekend because the health system is overwhelmed.
Health Ministry deputy director general Itamar Grotto on Sunday estimated that the number of Israeli COVID-19 cases could surge to tens of thousands.
“According to our estimates we will reach thousands and even tens of thousands of patients; That can’t be prevented,” he said on Channel 12. “Not all of the tens of thousands will go to hospitals, most will be treated within the community. Some 80-90 percent of the patients will only develop very mild symptoms and nothing will happen to them, they will just have to stay in home quarantine until the disease passes.”
Netanyahu said on Saturday that the disease was a pandemic.
“First of all, this is a global pandemic, whether the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) calls it such or not. It is a matter of days or hours. It is doubtful whether there has been a similar pandemic in the last 100 years. It seems that the rate of infection is greater than we figured,” Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu said he was in touch with other world leaders and had discussed international cooperation to stem the spread of the outbreak. The virus hit a milestone Friday, infecting more than 100,000 people worldwide. It has killed nearly 3,400 people.
Israel has already required returning Israelis from several countries to self-quarantine, and barred foreigners from a slew of European and Asian countries. Some 80,000 Israelis are now reported to be in self-quarantine, and large events such as concerts and sporting matches have been canceled.
Israelis have also been advised against all non-vital international travel.
Air France said on Saturday it had halted all flights between Paris and Tel Aviv until March 28. Lufthansa, Air France, Alitalia, Ibera and Wizz Air have all cut back or halted flights to Israel.
Israel on Wednesday barred entry to almost all non-residents of the Jewish state arriving from France, Germany, Spain, Austria and Switzerland. The measures come on top of restrictions previously imposed on arrivals from mainland China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, Macau, South Korea, Japan and Italy.