Israel preparing for 2,500 COVID-19 patients on life-support, hundreds of dead

June 23, 2020 by Arye Green -TPS
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The Corona Cabinet unanimously approved the Health, Finance and Defence ministries’ proposal to prepare for the scenario of some 2,500 Coronavirus (COVID-19) patients on life support and “many hundreds of dead,” as the numbers of infections in Israel climb daily.

Dan Company crew member prepares to disinfect the company buses as a precaution against coronavirus. Holon, Mar 9, 2020. Photo by Kobi Richter/TPS

The Corona Cabinet convened Monday to discuss the spike in infections in the country, during which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that Israel is “facing a systematic increase in morbidity.”

In the past week, 1,646 new Corona patients were diagnosed in Israel, more than in the entire month of May.

“Among the possible actions that we will discuss are a dramatic increase in enforcement – including increasing fines, having a centralized enforcement authority under the Public Security Ministry, and mobilizing additional forces for inspection and enforcement,” Netanyahu said.

Commenting on the Shin Bet’s digital tracking of COVID-19 patients for epidemiological inquiries, he said that “we know that this is a problematic issue, but on the other hand, we know that it has contributed greatly to reining in the pandemic.”

While some have critiqued the method as an infringement on the right to privacy, the Shin Bet (Israel’s Security Agency) was responsible for discovering and tracking down 24% of the approximately 16,700 Coronavirus patients in Israel, as opposed to 28% discovered through epidemiological investigation.

“We will see how we can overcome the problems in order to achieve a lowering of morbidity,” Netanyahu said.

The enactment of local shutdowns is under consideration, a tool that the government has already used to prevent broader general shutdowns.

He also threatened to return to more general shutdowns and restrictions, “a very sharp step.”

“I suggest that we consider it. We will see if and when it is needed. And, of course, it has consequences for certain actions that we have approved. We will see if we need them,” he said.

On Sunday, Netanyahu cautioned that “if we do not immediately change our behaviour regarding masks and maintaining distance, we will bring upon ourselves – against our will – the return of the shutdowns.”

Israel in recent weeks has been emerging gradually from a complete lockdown that significantly hindered the economy and generated a mass wave of unemployment.

Gantz directed the state to prepare for a scenario of up to 2,500 patients on life support, some 7,500 in the hospitals, and a total of 125,000 patients across the country, with “many hundreds of dead.”

The scenario is based on models that took into account extreme scenarios from other countries. The Defense Ministry emphasized that this is not a forecast but the operational scenario recommended by it for the state in terms of its preparedness.

The Ministry of Health updated Monday that there are 4,848 active patients in Israel, 56 new cases since Sunday night.

The patients include 46 in serious condition, of them 29 are on life support.

Since the beginning of the outbreak in the country, 20,869 people have been diagnosed with the virus and 15,714 people have recovered. 307 have died.

 

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