National Emergency Authority said to fear 2nd virus wave will be twice as bad

TV report says forecast estimates number of cases in fall could reach tens of thousands, with thousands hospitalized and deaths ranging from several hundred to low thousands

Magen David Adom workers wearing protective clothing disinfect their ambulance after taking care of a patient with a possible coronavirus infection on April 14, 2020 (Nati Shohat/Flash90)
Magen David Adom workers wearing protective clothing disinfect their ambulance after taking care of a patient with a possible coronavirus infection on April 14, 2020 (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Israel’s National Emergency Authority fears a second wave of coronavirus infections and is calling on the government to use the relative lull in cases to prepare hospitals for a substantial increase in respiratory ventilation and treatment capacities, the Kan public broadcaster reported on Tuesday.

According to the report, the authority has prepared a model that forecasts a second wave of infections at around the time of the Jewish new year, which this year falls in mid-September.

According to the forecast, the number of cases could be at least twice as bad, reach tens of thousands, with thousands hospitalized and deaths estimated between several hundred to the low thousands.

The report came as Israel lifted many of its lockdown restrictions, and with the number of daily cases continuing to diminish.

The Health Ministry on Tuesday night said the country’s death toll had risen to 238, with just 43 new infections recorded nationwide in the past 24 hours. Some 5,586 people currently have the virus, with 91 in serious condition, 70 of them on ventilators. Another 53 are in moderate condition with the rest displaying mild symptoms. Over 10,000 have recovered from the virus.

Medical workers at the coronavirus unit, in Ichilov hospital, Tel Aviv, Israel, May 4, 2020. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

In recent days, Israel’s infection rate has dropped off significantly, with the number of new cases over 24-hour periods consistently remaining below 100. Since Saturday evening, the highest number of new infections in a day was 84.

Last Wednesday, for the first time since the start of the pandemic, the number of Israelis to have recovered from COVID-19 surpassed the number of actively sick.

With the number of new infections dropping, the government has increasingly rolled back restrictions meant to curb the outbreak and on Monday canceled the 100-meter limit that Israelis could travel from their homes if not for a permitted activity.

It also ended restrictions preventing people from visiting with family and approved the reopening of malls and outdoor markets on Thursday.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that all lockdown restrictions could be removed by the middle of June.

He warned, though, that Israel could have to reassess enforcing social distancing measures if there are more than 100 new coronavirus cases a day, a doubling of cases within 10 days, or 250 people with serious symptoms in hospitals.

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