The government is considering imposing a full lockdown on haredi (ultra-Orthodox) cities and towns in which the number of people infected with coronavirus continues to rise.A team of top scientists said it expects Israel will have 500 critically ill patients by next week.“[On Monday], there were talks between the prime minister, health minister and defense minister, and we are preparing for such a scenario with Home Front Command,” Health Ministry director-general Moshe Bar Siman Tov said Tuesday in a live-streamed interview.Specifically, the number of people infected with the virus continues to spike in the haredi city of Bnei Brak, where there has been an increase of 66 sick people in one day and there are 571 people infected out of a population less than 200,000, or some 285 out of every 100,000. In Israel, an average of 53 people is infected out of every 100,000. Health officials predict that if the trend in Bnei Brak continues, as many as 1,500 residents will be sick with coronavirus by next week, among them as many 60 to 80 people in serious condition within the next two months.A team of scientists at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Racah Institute have analyzed current data and forecast new figures related to the expected number of Israelis who will become critically ill with the coronavirus: likely 500 by April 9 and 1,000 by April 14.“It takes 12 days for a person to go from being diagnosed to being hospitalized and then critically ill,” HU’s Prof. Nadav Katz said. Even if the country enforced a more serious quarantine today and stopped any further infection, “The people who are already ill are going to get worse and become critically ill no matter what we do. It is a known fraction,” he said.Katz examined data in Israel and several other countries to determine how long it takes from infection to critical illness to make his prediction. While 500 is guaranteed, in his estimation, the larger number can be halted through protective measures, specifically isolation and proper care of at-risk populations and citizens 65 years and older, he said.The country must crack down on the less obedient parts of the population to end the coronavirus crisis faster, Katz said. “If we take half measures it is almost as bad as doing nothing at all,” he said.Government officials have considered imposing a closure on Bnei Brak and Jerusalem’s Mea She’arim haredi neighborhood to curb the spread of the disease.The Israel Police said it is prepared to do so. However, some Health Ministry officials said they feared imposing a full closure in these areas may lead to an even more significant rate of infection there.The Health Ministry is working with the haredi population to enable the implementation of regulations and provide clearer information, Bar Siman Tov said Tuesday.The police said they have issued fines over the past two days totaling NIS 650,000 for violating Health Ministry regulations in three major haredi centers: Mea She’arim, Beit Shemesh and Bnei Brak.“There should be zero tolerance for those violating the regulations,” Bar Siman Tov said, adding that the country was increasing the number of people being screened for COVID-19 in haredi and Arab areas with a goal of isolating anyone who tests positive and those who have come in contact with the sick.The health funds will open four testing branches in Bnei Brak, and anyone with a fever over 38°C or who is coughing or having difficulty breathing would be able to make an appointment to be tested, Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman said Tuesday. In addition, Magen David Adom launched a drive-through testing complex in the city.In the rest of Israel, the number of sick people per day seems to be declining, Bar Siman Tov said, adding that he does not want to be too optimistic.“We look at the whole world, and we see a sharp rise in cases – almost 80,000 new sick people per day, and it influences our decisions,” he said. “We are worried about what is happening with our neighbors, and it is too early to be optimistic.”“We hope that this trend line will continue through Passover, and that after the holiday we will be able to return to life,” Bar Siman Tov said. “We are watching the numbers and fear there will be an increase of infections around the holidays.”Israel was ranked the No. 1 safest country to stay free of coronavirus by the Deep Knowledge Group, a consortium of commercial and nonprofit organizations active on many fronts in the realm of DeepTech and Frontier Technologies. A release about this success was disseminated by the Prime Minister’s Office.Overnight Monday and on Tuesday, five more Israelis succumbed to the virus, bringing the total number of victims to 20: a 90-year-old who was intubated at Wolfson Medical Center in Holon; a 70-year-old man who was hospitalized at Assuta Ashdod Medical Center; a 90-year-old woman who was hospitalized at Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot; a 49-year-old woman who was treated at Shamir Medical Center in Tzrifin; and a woman in her 50s who died at Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer. All five patients had multiple preexisting conditions.On Wednesday morning, the Health Ministry was reporting a 21st person, though no details had yet to be released.On Monday, the Health Ministry reported that 16 people had died. On Tuesday, it was reported that the 58-year-old man who passed away on Monday at Shamir Medical Center and who at first was believed to have died from COVID-19 was found to be negative to the virus.As of Wednesday morning, the number of patients who had been diagnosed with coronavirus was 5,591, of which 97 are in serious condition and 76 of them intubated. So far, 226 people have recovered from the virus.Tamar Peretz Levy of Lod, the 49-year-old woman who is the country’s youngest patient to die of the virus to date, was the mother of two four-year-old twins who are now orphans. The children lost their father, Shimon, shortly after they were born.In a statement disseminated by the city, Levy was described as a heroine who spent many years fighting to start a family and bring the twins into the world. She died after a few days in the hospital.Currently there are 39,670 Israelis in quarantine, including 3,489 medical professionals – 758 doctors and 1,299 nurses. To date, 160,961 Israelis have been isolated.Hundreds of tourists have not been put into quarantine, despite an announcement by Defense Minister Naftali Bennett last week that every passenger who arrives at Ben-Gurion Airport from a country with a high chance of contracting the virus will be screened for the virus and be isolated in a coronavirus hotel.But the plan seems to have been canceled, and hundreds of passengers, including from New York, Spain and France, have been entering the country without interruption, Channel 12 reported.“Originally, it was the decision of the National Security Council and the prime minister to test travelers upon landing,” Bennett said Tuesday. “But for a plethora of reasons, the decision changed to house quarantine… I can’t get everything I want approved.”The Health Ministry is ramping up regulations aimed at curbing the virus’s transmission. It is considering requiring all citizens to wear masks when outside their home.Since the World Health Organization declared that the novel coronavirus may not be spread as an airborne aerosol, like SARS, “recommendations for the public have been formulated,” and instructions should soon be disseminated, Bar Siman Tov said. Surgical masks will not be required, he said, but any kind of covering that can be designed at home likely would. However, even with a mask, guidelines on travel will not be altered, he added.The latest state-of-emergency orders that the prime minister shared Monday night were approved by the government overnight, while the Education Ministry said it had still not made a decision about whether children would return to school after Passover.“The Education Ministry is preparing for a continued scenario of distance learning,” Education Minister Rafi Peretz said in a virtual press conference Tuesday.“Distance learning has proven itself,” he said. “We have received excellent responses from teachers and students. If the situation persists, we will put more of it on the agenda.”When asked how distance learning would be paid for, Peretz said it “needs to be paid for – period.”

Source link