Official: We must prepare for 5,000 needing ventilators

Woman in her 90s dies from COVID-19, raising Israel’s death toll to 14

Director of Mayanei Hayeshua Medical Center in Bnei Brak says the patient suffered from existing medical conditions before contracting the virus

Magen David Adom paramedics in protective clothing are seen in Jerusalem on March 28, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Magen David Adom paramedics in protective clothing are seen in Jerusalem on March 28, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

A woman in her 90s died Sunday of the coronavirus at Bnei Brak’s Mayanei Hayeshua Medical Center, raising Israel’s death toll from COVID-19 to 14.

The director of Mayanei Hayeshua said the woman suffered from a number of existing conditions before she contracted the virus.

Her name was not immediately released.

She was the second Israeli to die from the virus Sunday, following 92-year-old Jerusalem resident Mordechai Ben Michael.

Of the 14 people to die in Israel from the coronavirus, 13 were over the age of 70. An 82-year-old Israeli man in Italy also died of the disease.

As of Sunday morning, there have been 3,865 confirmed coronavirus cases in Israel. According to the Health Ministry, 66 people are in serious condition, including 54 who were breathing with the help of ventilators. Another 82 people were in moderate condition, while the rest had minor symptoms.

Medical personnel wearing protective gear handle a coronavirus test sample at Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem in Jerusalem on March 24, 2020 (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

The continued rise in cases came as a top Health Ministry official reportedly warned that Israel needed to prepare for a situation in which 5,000 people infected with the virus needed a ventilator.

“This is a difficult scenario, but we can endure it. A lot of things need to be done not to get to this,” Dr. Vered Ezra, head of medical management at the ministry, was quoted saying by Channel 12 news during a briefing.

According to a report prepared last week for the Knesset’s Special Committee on Dealing With the Coronavirus, there are at most 1,437 ventilator machines in the country still available to treat patients. The Health Ministry disputed that figure, saying there are 2,864 available ventilators.

There have been growing concerns there may not be enough ventilators to treat all of the most seriously ill, leaving doctors with life and death decisions on whom to keep alive.

“The story is not only [ventilator] machines but also manpower and hospital beds. There needs to be space to treat all the patients,” Ezra said Sunday.

She warned that though the disease is more fatal to those who are elderly, young people were also at risk.

Illustrative: Staff and Ichilov hospital in Tel Aviv move a patient to a new ward, March 22, 2020. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

Her comments came after a man in his 20s with with no preexisting medical issues was listed as in serious condition. Due to increasing problems with his breathing, he was sedated and hooked up to a ventilator, Samson Assuta Ashdod University Hospital said.

“The message is that this can be a serious illness, not another flu,” Ezra said.

At the briefing, Ezra was also asked about the possibility of quarantining areas where residents were not adhering to emergency ordinances meant to limit the spread of the virus, such as in the predominantly ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak.

“The ambition is to also open designated places for patients in these cities,” she said.

Israelis were ordered starting on Wednesday 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 their home. Those found violating those regulations are subject to fines of upwards of NIS 500 ($140) or imprisonment.

The government was set to weigh imposing further restrictions.

read more: