Top Health Official: 38% of Bnei Brak Residents Infected

Placards in Bnei Brak calling for residents to stay home, Tuesday. (Gili Yaari/Flash90)

Calling the situation “a health catastrophe,” Professor Ran Saar, head of the Maccabee Health Organization, said that in his estimation nearly 40% of Bnei Brak residents were infected with coronavirus. Speaking to the Knesset Committee on Coronavirus, Saar said that his health maintenance organization was responsible for about half of the city’s residents. “By our estimation there are about 75,000 people infected with disease, 38% of the city’s total population,” he told the committee.

The danger was even greater because “Bnei Brak is a city with a large elderly population. We could find ourselves with many perishing, Rachmana litzlan. Police need to be on duty to ensure that people remain home on Pesach, and especially for the Seder,” he said.

Committee chairman MK Ofer Shelach said that the medical establishment “is preparing for the next wave of coronavirus victims,” which are likely to come in the days after Pesach. “We expect an increase in patients. Hospitals have been instructed to clear out one third of their beds for coronavirus patients, which would provide about 5,000 beds throughout the country. Those who have less severe cases will be removed from hospitals and sent to other facilities to recuperate,” he said.

View of the nearly empty Rechov Rabi Akiva in Bnei Brak. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

On Wednesday night, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said police would impose a closure on the city, preventing individuals from leaving unless it was a medical need or emergency. On Thursday, police had set up checkpoints into and out of the city, turning back many individuals who had sought to leave for various reasons. Netanyahu said that the order applied only to those attempting to leave the city, but that residents could continue to shop and go outside their homes within the 100 meter limit.

With that, Arutz Sheva reported Thursday, there were spot shortages of some supplies in Bnei Brak stores – because delivery truck drivers were refusing to enter the city because of its high rate of coronavirus infection. Storekeepers reported getting calls from drivers who told them to meet them outside the city and pick up their orders because of fears that they might contract the virus. Storekeepers in other communities with high levels of infection, such as Kfar Chabad, are reporting receiving the same reaction, the report said.

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