Number of infected with virus at Jerusalem assisted living facility climbs to 6

After social worker who returned from France contracts virus, 4 fellow staffers also infected along with resident; CEO calls for Health Ministry involvement

Jerusalem's Nofim Tower sheltered living facility. (Courtesy)
Jerusalem's Nofim Tower sheltered living facility. (Courtesy)

Four staff members and a resident at a Jerusalem assisted living facility have reportedly tested positive for COVID-19, apparently contracting the virus from a social worker who returned to work last week following a trip in France.

The number of infected at Nofim Tower, including the social worker, had climbed to six, Channel 12 reported. One infected nurse is an employee of the nearby Nofei Jerusalem facility and she unknowingly gave the virus to a colleague there.

A Nofim resident told The Times of Israel that all of her roughly 170 neighbors have been forbidden to leave their rooms. The facility also houses a 19-bed nursing-care unit.

Fifteen staff members and residents known to have come in contact with those with the virus have also been further sequestered in mandatory quarantine.

Residents of Jerusalem’s Nofim Tower in a communal space. (Courtesy)

The resident who spoke to The Times of Israel said that while they had been receiving updates over the Nofim Tower’s PA system, those have ceased since Friday, leaving many in the dark regarding developments there.

On Sunday, residents found two pieces of stapled paper containing announcements slipped under their doors in which management urged calm and patience as the restrictions were expected to continue for the foreseeable future.

Nofim Tower CEO Rafi Pollak told Channel 13 on Sunday that he was losing control of the situation and pleaded for the Health Ministry to get involved.

“It’s a losing battle from the get-go,” he said, comparing his facility to the Diamond Princess cruise ship that became stranded in the waters outside of Japan in January due to a coronavirus outbreak among passengers on board.

Tamir Tal, whose mother is a Nofim resident, praised the conduct of the facility’s management, saying it had spent a considerable amount of money to disinfect the site, but blasted the Health Ministry for neglecting the residents.

Nofim Tower resident Rahel Dan (left) with a selection of grandchildren in the facility’s restaurant. (Courtesy)

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The worldwide outbreak has sickened more than 156,000 people and left more than 5,800 dead. The death toll in the United States is more than 50, while infections neared 3,000 across 49 states and the District of Columbia.

The Health Ministry said on Monday morning that an additional 37 cases of coronavirus had been recorded in Israel, bringing the total number up to 250.

Over 90 percent of those who have been infected with the disease — 228 out of 250 — have light symptoms, while 13 people are in moderate condition and five are seriously ill, the ministry said. Another four people no longer display any symptoms and are recuperating, according to the ministry.

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