Coronavirus death toll in Israel rises to 143, with 12,758 cases

Among fatalities is woman who lived at nursing home in north where 15 residents have died, the most of any senior living center

Medical personnel at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem receive a patient suspected of having the coronavirus on April 16, 2020. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)
Medical personnel at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem receive a patient suspected of having the coronavirus on April 16, 2020. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

The death toll in Israel from the coronavirus rose to 143 Thursday evening, an increase of three from the morning.

The fatalities were a 76-year-old woman at Sharon Hospital in Petah Tikva with preexisting medical conditions, an 82-year-old woman at Poriya Medical Center in Tiberias, and an 86-year-old woman at Wolfson Medical Center in Holon.

The latter was the 15th resident of the Yokra nursing home in Yavne’el to die from COVID-19, the highest death toll at any senior living facility in Israel.

Roughly one-third of the COVID-19 fatalities in Israel were residents of elderly living centers.

A Magen David Adom medical workers takes a sample from an ultra-Orthodox man at a mobile coronavirus testing in Jerusalem’s Geula neighborhood on April 16, 2020. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

According to the Health Ministry’s latest figures, there have been 12,758 confirmed coronavirus cases in Israel.

The ministry said 181 people were in serious condition, 137 of them on ventilators.

Another 158 people were in moderate condition and the rest had mild symptoms.

There have been 2,818 Israelis who recovered from COVID-19.

The latest increases came as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held the first deliberations on a strategy for easing restrictions meant to contain the coronavirus.

Reports said steps could be announced as early as Thursday night, with some stores and workplaces being allowed to reopen next week.

While the Health Ministry has recommended a particularly slow and cautious strategy that would see businesses stay closed for at least another month, the Finance Ministry is demanding that restriction begin being eased as early as Sunday.

Netanyahu said the plan must be “gradual and responsible,” his office said, apparently placing his view closer to that of the Health Ministry.

People shop for food at the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem on April 16, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Also Thursday, the ministerial committee formulating Israel’s response to the coronavirus outbreak approved a decision to relax lockdown restrictions in the ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak, while extending closure rules in Jerusalem neighborhoods until April 19.

Bnei Brak, an ultra-Orthodox suburb of Tel Aviv with nearly 200,000 residents, has the second highest infection numbers in the country — 2,150 as of Thursday. Jerusalem leads with 2,418 cases.

Two weeks ago Bnei Brak was placed under a strict lockdown, with residents only allowed to leave municipal boundaries to work in key industries or to receive medical care. Several Jerusalem ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods were put under lockdown on Sunday.

The Kan public broadcaster reported Thursday that Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem were likely to be placed under lockdown next, following an increase in infection rates. Kan said that Silwan and Ras al-Amud were among the neighborhoods facing closures.

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