Israel’s Corona Death Toll Climbs to 44, Almost 100 Patients on Ventilators

A funeral of a man who died from coronavirus in Ashkelon, Israel. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

Israel locked down the hard-hit community of Bnei Brak, but the death toll continued to rise in other parts of the country on Saturday.

By: WIN Staff & AP

As of Saturday evening, 44 people in Israel had died from COVID-19, with 7,589 cases diagnosed and 98 people on ventilators.

The casualties on Saturday ranged in age from 67 to 88 years of age.

One of the deceased was named as Holocaust survivor Dr. Nelia Kravitz, a physician who worked at Beersheba’s Soroka Medical Center for two decades, various Israeli outlets reported.

The condition of Israel’s youngest corona victim, a 22-year-old patient who had been treated at Ashdod’s Assuta Medical Center, continued to worsen on Friday. The young man was placed on life support and transferred to Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv to receive additional treatments.

By Friday, the city of Bnei Brak, which is close to Tel Aviv, had become the country’s worst hot spot and was virtually sealed off from the rest of the country by Israeli authorities. The military sent troops in to assist, with one expert estimating that nearly 40% of the city’s population might already have been infected.

On Thursday, Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, a powerful ultra-Orthodox politician helping to lead the battle against the virus, was confirmed to be infected.

This forced Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the ministry’s director general and reportedly the head of the Mossad spy agency, into quarantine because of exposure to Litzman. Netanyahu, who tested negative, went through an identical experience after a previous exposure to an infected aide.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause severe symptoms like pneumonia that can be fatal.

Ran Saar, who runs the Maccabi Healthcare Services, a leading provider, told parliament he estimates some 75,000 people in Bnei Brak, or 38% of the population, could be infected. He said the city has many elderly residents and called for urgent action.

The government declared Bnei Brak a “restricted zone” on Thursday, limiting movement in and out of the city. Earlier in the day, police patrols were out in large numbers to make sure residents remained indoors.

In order to protect its more vulnerable residents, the elderly, Israeli government ministers decided to approve an operation to move thousands of them out of the city.

Interior Minister Aryeh Deri and Defense Minister Naftali Bennett decided that 4,500 residents 80 years-old and above will be taken to special quarantine hotels where they will ride out the pandemic in better health circumstances than if they remained in the city where the coronavirus rages.

An entire IDF division, the 98th, has been deployed to Bnei Brak. It will help with the transfer.

Reports say the government debated imposing a total lockdown of the city but decided against it for the time being. Channel 13’s Barak Ravid reports that Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan has prepared an emergency ordinance for the government’s approval that would give it the power to declare Bnei Brak and cities like it “restricted areas.”

According to Ministry of Health statistics, one out of seven confirmed coronavirus patients in Israel are residents of the city of Bnei Brak.

Ran Sa’ar, CEO of Maccabi, one of Israel’s largest health providers, made a shocking declaration on Thursday, estimating that 38 percent of Bnei Brak residents, or 75,000 people, are infected with the coronavirus. (World Israel News & AP)

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