The Health Ministry on Thursday announced it had started a program of testing for elder care facilities with residents or staff members diagnosed with coronavirus, as the death toll continued to rise in nursing homes.
Channel 12 news reported that Thursday’s fatalities took the total death toll from Israeli elder care facilities to 23, out of a total national death toll of 79 — almost 30% of deaths.
The Magen David Adom emergency service will carry out some 3,000 tests per day in the coming days as part of the program, according to the announcement.
The deaths of six more people were announced Thursday, at least two of whom lived in assisted living facilities for the elderly.
One of the fatalities was an 84-year-old man who lived at the Mishan assisted living facility in the southern city of Beersheba, raising the number of people who died of the coronavirus there to 11.
In addition, an 86-year-old man who lived at the Yokra elder care home in the town of Yavne’el died at the Baruch Padeh Medical Center in the northern city of Tiberias, the fourth fatality from that facility.
There were eight new deaths from COVID-19 on Wednesday, including two residents of Mishan and another from Yokra.
Relatives of residents at Mishan in Beersheba say they are planning to file a lawsuit against the facility’s managers and the Health Ministry for alleged medical malpractice.
The novel coronavirus has been spreading quickly in nursing homes around the country, raising intense concern for the safety of elderly residents.
On Sunday, the Prime Minister’s Office asked the Defense Ministry and Home Front Command to assist the Health Ministry with operational aspects of nursing homes.
The Nofim Tower assisted living center in Jerusalem has also been hard hit by the virus outbreak, with four fatalities from the facility. In addition there were three deaths at the Bulgarian home in Rishon Lezion and one death at the Viznitz nursing home in Bnei Brak.
There have also been outbreaks at a separate facility run by Mishan in the central city of Holon and at the Freemasons Nursing Home in the northern town of Nahariya.
Three residents of the latter facility were released from hospital on Thursday, having made a recovery from the infection.
The ministry said Thursday there have been 9,755 people diagnosed with the virus, an increase of 351 in the past 24 hours.
There were 165 people in serious condition, 119 of whom are on ventilators.
Another 171 were in moderate condition, with the rest having mild symptoms.
So far, 864 Israelis have recovered from the virus.
Almost all of those who have died from COVID-19 in Israel have been elderly and suffered from preexisting conditions, according to hospital officials.