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Virus case found at Beersheba nursing home which saw deadly outbreak

Management of facility which previously had 14 fatalities from COVID-19 says all residents are isolated and visits canceled; national death toll steady at 279 since Wednesday

The Mishan assisted living facility in Beersheba (Screen grab/Channel 13 news)
The Mishan assisted living facility in Beersheba (Screen grab/Channel 13 news)

A resident of a Beersheba nursing home which previously saw a deadly outbreak of the coronavirus has tested positive for the pathogen, Hebrew media reported Saturday.

According to Channel 12 news the woman, who lives at the Mishan assisted living facility, fell ill overnight and was taken to the Soroka Medical Center where she tested positive for the virus.

The Walla news site reported that she was in moderate condition. It was unclear if COVID-19 was the reason for her hospitalization.

Fourteen residents of the Mishan home in Beersheba have died of COVID-19, with the most recent fatality in April. At the height of the outbreak, the novel coronavirus spread quickly in nursing homes around the country, where it was responsible for around a third of the national death toll.

View of the Soroka Hospital in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba. May 12, 2015 (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

Management of the facility sent a message to the families of residents saying that all occupants have been isolated in their rooms and outside visits have been stopped, Channel 12 reported.

“We call on the Health Ministry to test all residents and staff,” the message read. “We will continue to treat the tenants with a strict policy of isolation and full protection, without relying solely on the results of the tests.”

This week a kindergarten in north Tel Aviv was briefly closed down after a worker was given a false positive test result.

The Health Ministry on Saturday morning reported that the total number of infections recorded in Israel since the start of the pandemic was 16,712, an increase of 22 over the previous 24 hours, with 14,085 people having recovered.

There were no new fatalities over the past two days, with the death toll remaining steady at 279 since Wednesday.

MDA staff performing coronavirus testing (Photo: Magen David Adom Israel)

According to the Health Ministry, 47 people were in serious condition, 36 of whom were on ventilators.

Another 30 people were in moderate condition and the rest had mild symptoms.

As the number of active coronavirus cases in Israel continued to drop, new Health Minister Yuli Edelstein on Thursday backed permitting indoor gatherings of up to 50 people.

Edelstein instructed the director-general to approve the measure during a meeting with top health officials, according to a ministry statement.

Participants in such gatherings would be required to wear masks and keep a distance of two meters from each other.

The Health Ministry also said it would reduce the space required between employees under which they may work without masks, from 1.5 meters to 1.2.

This picture released by the Health Ministry on May 21, 2020, shows Health Minister Yuli Edelstein (C) meeting with senior ministry officials. (Health Ministry)

Outdoor gatherings of up to 50 people were again allowed Sunday, amid the increasing easing of restrictions put in place to stop the spread of the virus as the rate of new infections declines.

In the meeting Thursday, Edelstein and senior ministry officials discussed the need to prepare for a second wave of the virus.

“We’re in a situation of ‘a time to open’ but we can’t become complacent. I again stress that the continued opening of the economy in accordance with the Health Ministry’s outline mainly depends on our adherence to the Health Ministry’s rules,” Edelstein was quoted saying in the statement.

He added: “The coronavirus may become stronger and the economy may need to be closed again.”

Since Israel began lifting restrictions on movement, economic activity and schools over the past month, there has not been a large rise in new virus cases, though several cases of positive tests among teachers have raised concerns of a potential fresh outbreak.

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