Family members of residents at an assisted living facility in Beersheba that has seen a number of COVID-19 cases protested there Sunday, saying they were being left in the dark about the outbreak at the complex.
At least 11 residents and staff of the Mishan facility in the southern city have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, with three residents hospitalized in serious condition at Soroka Medical Center, Channel 13 news reported. Another resident, 93-year-old Avraham Aroshas, died Friday hours after testing positive for the virus.
“I want to hear that the manager will come out and talk to us and explain what exactly is going on inside,” one of the protesters said. Demonstrations are permitted to take place under virus restrictions but protesters must maintain social distancing directives.
The demonstrators also demanded that all residents of the facility be tested for the virus, Channel 13 news reported.
Dr. Alexander Ginzburg, Mishan’s nationwide health administrator, later spoke with the protesters and reporters, saying the facility was in touch with the Health Ministry’s geriatric division and that everyone who was in contact with Aroshas will be tested.
He also said staff members were being isolated over concerns they were exposed to the virus, as were residents of the nursing unit.
The outbreak at the Beersheba facility echoed the situation at the Nofim Tower assisted living center in Jerusalem. Three residents there have died as a result of the coronavirus and 15 residents and staff from the facility in the capital’s Kiryat Yovel neighborhood have been infected.
Also Sunday, relatives of patients at the Shoham Combined Centre for Geriatric Medicine in the northern town of Pardes Hanna-Karkur protested over reported plans to move the residents elsewhere and use the facility to house people infected with the coronavirus.
“We really feel like they’re kidnapping our parents,” one of the demonstrators said. “We won’t allow this failure to happen.”
Elder care facilities across the world have proven to be particularly susceptible to the pathogen, with residents, many of them with underlying medical conditions, living in close quarters, allowing the virus to spread with alarming ease.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the virus can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and lead to death.
As of Sunday morning, there have been 3,865 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Israel. The tally included 66 patients in serious condition, including 54 requiring mechanical ventilation. Another 82 are in moderate condition and the rest have mild symptoms.
Twelve people have died in Israel from the virus, and on Saturday the Foreign Ministry announced an 82-year-old Israeli tourist died in an Italian hospital after he contracted the virus.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Friday that the country could enter a complete shutdown if there isn’t an improvement in the number of confirmed virus cases in the next two days. The government will convene on Sunday to consider a number of new directives.
Since Wednesday at 5 p.m., Israelis have been ordered to remain in their homes unless they are taking part in a small number of approved activities, including purchasing food and medicine or a short walk of no more than 100 meters (328 feet) from home. Those found violating those regulations are subject to fines of NIS 500 or more ($140), and imprisonment.