Virus cases in Israel reach 15,058, with 194 fatalities and 102 on ventilators
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Virus cases in Israel reach 15,058, with 194 fatalities and 102 on ventilators

Health Ministry says 137 Israelis are in serious condition and 102 are in moderate condition; 6,003 have recovered from coronavirus

Chevra Kadisha workers wearing protective clothes, carry the body of Rabbi Avraham Heber who died from complications of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) infection, at the Shamgar Funeral Home in Jerusalem, on April 23, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Chevra Kadisha workers wearing protective clothes, carry the body of Rabbi Avraham Heber who died from complications of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) infection, at the Shamgar Funeral Home in Jerusalem, on April 23, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Health Ministry on Friday evening said there were 15,048 confirmed coronavirus cases in the country, an increase of 255 from the previous evening.

In a statement, the ministry confirmed that the death toll is now 194, up by two since Thursday evening, including the death of Rabbi Avraham Yeshayahu Heber whose kidney donation organization saved 800 people over the past decade.

There were no immediate details on the other fatality.

The ministry figures showed 137 Israelis are in serious condition, of whom 102 are on ventilators, and 102 are in moderate condition. The remainder have mild or no symptoms.

In addition, 6,003 Israelis have recovered from COVID-19, a number which is included in the tally of total cases.

Rabbi Avraham Yeshayahu Heber, founder of the ‘Matnat Chaim’ organization, at the courtroom of the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on September 25, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Heber, 55, died Thursday of COVID-19 and was mourned by many senior public officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin.

Heber, himself a recipient of a kidney donation, had been sedated and on a ventilator at Jerusalem’s Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem for about two weeks. His condition worsened on April 14.

The kidney donation organization Heber founded, Matnat Chaim (Gift of Life), last week celebrated its 800th transplant over the past decade. Matnat Chaim facilitates voluntary kidney donations in Israel.

Screen capture from video of Blue and White MK Chili Tropper in hospital to donate a kidney, February 2, 2020. (Channel 12)

Netanyahu expressed his “deep sorrow about the passing of the rabbi,” saying Heber “instilled in the general public the awareness of the importance of donation.”

“Thanks to him, hundreds of people in Israel were granted a new life,” Netanyahu said. “Rabbi Heber was a model of humanity, kindness and mutual responsibility.”

President Reuven Rivlin also sent his condolences.

“The heart bleeds,” Rivlin tweeted, at the loss of “a man of pure kindness, who connected the whole of Israeli society.”

“The rabbi’s life work was outstanding,” he added. “Together with the many people he saved, and the entire nation, I want to send strength to the family and to believe that Heber’s ‘gift of life’ will continue to gift life after his passing as well.”

He was buried at 2 a.m. on Friday in Jerusalem’s Har Hamenuchot cemetery. Authorities had asked the public not to attend the funeral as coronavirus restrictions limit the number of attendees.

Magen David Adom medics wearing protective clothing evacuate a suspected coronavirus patient to the coronavirus unit at Shaare Zedek hospital in Jerusalem, April 20, 2020. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Meanwhile, officials warned Friday that as parents become increasingly hesitant to go to hospitals and health clinics for fear of the coronavirus, there has been a drop in child vaccination rates and a surge in home births in the past few weeks.

And they warned that the trend could open the door for a second, simultaneous virus outbreak, with particular fears regarding measles.

In Israel, the Kan public broadcaster reported there was a 30% drop in the administration of the MMRV vaccine in March and the first week of April compared with the same period last year. World Health Organization officials said a similar decline had been seen around the world.

MMRV refers to measles, mumps, rubella and varicella (chicken pox).

The Health Ministry is urging parents to be sure to go to health clinics to vaccinate their kids, Kan reported.

Several countries, including Israel and the US, suffered from a severe outbreak of measles last year, which resulted in fatalities.

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