PM Holds Meeting as Number of Coronavirus Cases Drastically Jumps to 250

Dr. Erez Barnbaum, Director of Assuta Medical Center in Ashdod, speaks at the new ward for people infected with the coronavirus, Monday. (Flash90)

The Health Ministry said Monday afternoon that 250 Israelis have now been diagnosed with the coronavirus, including eight tourists, a major jump in the number of confirmed cases since the earlier tally in the morning.

The jump appears to come from an increase in the number of tests performed by health authorities across the country.

According to the ministry, 8,571 people have been tested for the virus.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu held a meeting discussing the country’s preparations for the coronavirus outbreak at the Prime Minister’s Office in Yerushalayim. The meeting was attended by the finance minister, the health minister, the economy minister, the transportation minister and the head of the NSC, office managers and other entities. As per reports, the health minister is requesting a complete shutdown to try contain the spread of the virus.

National Economic Council chairman Prof. Avi Simchon told Army Radio on Monday that Netanyahu had decided not to proceed with a “full shutdown of the economy” in the coming days, although additional restrictions are likely to be implemented in the interim.

Should the prime minister subsequently order a shutdown of all places of work, except for critical industries, Simchon said the move would cost the economy at least NIS 50 billion. He added that it will be necessary for the government to “significantly increase” the fiscal deficit in order to compensate businesses and support the economy.

A medical intern at Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital was diagnosed with coronavirus on Monday, becoming the second of the medical staff at that hospital to test positive for the virus.

The hospital added that all medical staff who had been in contact with the intern have been placed in quarantine. All patients who were in contact with the staff were tested for the virus, and those already released were notified.

The intern became the second of the medical staff to contract the virus after a senior doctor in one of the units at Ichilov was also reported to have contracted the virus. All the patients that may have been in contact with the doctors had to be transported to another hospital unit; the staff was sent home and into isolation while the unit in question is undergoing disinfection.

In Ashdod, Assuta Hospital opened a dedicated department for corona patients only, on Monday. Head of the department will be Dr. Karina Glick, and the team will include several dozen nurses and physicians who have undergone many simulations regarding the care of corona patients.

The department has about 30 beds for patients, including four beds for those in intensive care, along with the ability to provide intensive care in additional positions. The department is equipped with most of the new technologies, focusing on those that allow remote viewing and monitoring, with the aim of ensuring the health of the caregivers and patients.



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