58-year-old wrongly reported as Israel’s 16th virus victim, died of other causes
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58-year-old wrongly reported as Israel’s 16th virus victim, died of other causes

The patient was initially said to be country’s youngest COVID-19 victim so far, with ‘significant’ preexisting medical conditions

The Assaf Harofeh hospital (CC BY-SA, Wikipedia)
Illustrative: Surgeons at Israel's Yitzhak Shamir Medical Center, formerly the Assaf Harofeh hospital, performing the artificial meniscus implant on November 11, 2019. (Courtesy)

This story has been updated from the initial, erroneous report.

A 58-year-old man was wrongly reported Monday as the 16th and youngest person in Israel to succumb to coronavirus.

On Tuesday health officials said the man who died at Assaf Harofeh Medical Center had died of other causes which were accidentally initially diagnosed as COVID-19.

In the initial report officials had said the man had “very significant preexisting conditions.”

According to the medical center, located in the Tel Aviv suburb of Be’er Yaakov, the patient was brought into the hospital from Holon on Sunday night.

“Unfortunately, he passed away this morning,” the hospital said in a statement. “We share the family’s grief and send our condolences.”

There were no immediate details on his identity.

Three fatalities were recorded on Sunday. Of the 15 people to die in Israel from coronavirus by Monday, 13 were over the age of 70. An 82-year-old Israeli man in Italy also died of the disease.

Medical team members at the Barzilay hospital, in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, wear protective gear, as they handle a coronavirus test sample on March 29, 2020. (Flash90)

The Health Ministry said Monday morning that the number of Israelis infected with the coronavirus was 4,347, a rise of 100 cases since Sunday night.

The cases included 80 in serious condition, of whom 63 were on ventilators, the ministry said. Another 81 were in moderate condition, 134 had recovered, and the rest had mild symptoms.

The tally soared beyond the 4,000 mark on Sunday, with an increase of 628 cases in 24 hours. The daily increase was the single largest since the first coronavirus case was recorded in the country, and put it in 17th place in terms of infection numbers worldwide.

One of those in serious condition is a man in his 20s who had no preexisting medical issues. Due to increasing difficulty breathing, he was sedated and hooked up to a ventilator, Samson Assuta Ashdod University Hospital said Sunday.

Illustrative: A doctor checks a medical ventilator control panel while wearing protective clothing at the Samson Assuta Ashdod University Hospital, March 16, 2020. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)

The continued rise in virus cases came as a top Health Ministry official reportedly warned that Israel needed to prepare for a situation in which 5,000 people infected with the virus needed ventilators.

“This is a difficult scenario, but we can endure it,” Dr. Vered Ezra, head of medical management at the ministry, was quoted as saying by Channel 12 news in a briefing.

According to a report prepared last week for the Knesset’s Special Committee on Dealing With the Coronavirus, there are at most 1,437 ventilators in the country still available to treat patients. The Health Ministry disputed that figure, saying there were 2,864 available ventilators.

There have been growing concerns there may not be enough ventilators to treat all of the most seriously ill, leaving doctors with life and death decisions on whom to keep alive.

Israelis were ordered starting last Wednesday to remain in their homes unless they are taking part in a small number of approved activities, including purchasing food and medicine, going to work, or taking a short walk no more than 100 meters (328 feet) from their home. Those found violating those regulations are subject to fines of upwards of NIS 500 ($140) or imprisonment.

The government was set to weigh imposing further restrictions.

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