Health Official: Coronavirus ‘Out of Control’

YERUSHALAYIM -
Magen David Adom workers outside the coronavirus unit at Shaare Tzedek hospital in Yerushalayim. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Skeptics on the need for a lockdown faced the most sobering data yet on the coronavirus: almost 5,000 new cases between Monday and Tuesday.

As the Israeli cabinet reached its decision on Monday to impose a three-week period of movement restrictions, numerous voices were heard criticizing it as unnecessary and harmful to the already battered economy.

But on Tuesday, proponents of stringent measures were fortified by the latest numbers.

Ran Balicer, head of the expert panel that advises coronavirus czar Ronni Gamzu, declared that the spread of the virus in Israel was “out of control.”

“The opening level of the Israeli economy is the most extreme and biggest in the world, and completely out of line with the level of morbidity. The spread of the coronavirus in Israel is out of control and must be stopped now,” he told the Kan public broadcaster on Tuesday.

Stress on the capacity of the hospital system continued to be a major concern.

The director general of Shaare Tzedek Medical Center in Yerushalayim, told Kan that the facility was currently unable to accept new coronavirus admissions.

“I closed the hospital to new coronavirus patients. With a heavy heart, I informed Magen David Adom not to transfer patients to me,” Ofer Marin said.

Deputy Health Minister Yoav Kisch warned of grave consequences if the public fails to heed health regulations, as a report said up to fifty people had been infected at a wedding held in a northern village of Mazra’a, violating restrictions.

The wedding celebrations there went on for a week, ending a few days ago. According to Channel 13 news, the bride’s family was infected at the wedding and they then passed on the virus to colleagues at their workplaces and in schools.

According to Health Ministry figures, there were 4,973 positive tests for coronavirus on Monday, and the number of confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic now stands at 162,273.

The number of active patients in Israel is 40,689. Of those, 533 patients were listed in serious condition, including 140 people on ventilators.

The ministry said the death toll from the virus increased by five since late Monday evening, to 1,141.