An Israeli worker stands outside the Dan Hotel in Jerusalem that was converted to receive coronavirus patients, March 19, 2020. Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
JNS.org – Following a directive by Defense Minister Naftali Bennett, the Israel Defense Forces’ Home Front Command opened its first coronavirus recovery center for mild patients at the Dan Panorama Hotel in Tel Aviv on Tuesday.
Bennett visited the hotel and called on Israelis to stay away from elderly people in order to protect them from infection.
According to the IDF, the Dan Panorama Hotel will be under the management and command of a senior reserve officer operating under the central Home Front district. Medical teams will supervise the recovery of the patients.
“This is for mild cases because medical officials concluded that home isolation does not work well. Often, family members are infected at home,” a military source told JNS.
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Between 15 and 20 first patients arrived at the hotel. The newly converted recovery center can hold up to 500 patients, the source said, placing one in each room, but if the situation calls for it, another 500 people can be housed there.
This would occur by placing two patients in each room after adaptations, such as a divider, are installed. “We’re not there yet,” said the source.
On Wednesday, the Home Front Command launched a second recovery center at the Dan Hotel Jerusalem. There, too, 500 mild patients can be cared for with an additional 500 people joining them, if need be.
In recent days, the Defense Ministry launched a tender for two more hotels, and is weighing the option of opening recovery centers in Haifa and Beersheva—in the north and south of the country—to increase access. Another option may involve opening two more hotels—one in Tel Aviv and one in Jerusalem—and moving patients from around the country to them.
The Israel Police has the responsibility of securing the hotel and ensuring that patients remain inside. Public-health services have provided the teams of doctors and nurses, though the Home Front Command is on standby to provide back-up medical personnel if the need arises.
Hotel workers are currently assisting the process by providing standard room services, though they are working according to special procedure to prevent the risk of infection.
‘An island of pleasantness and calm’
Meanwhile on Tuesday, the IDF drafted 2,500 reservists in line with a directive by Bennet to continue to assist responses to the pandemic.
On Sunday, Home Front Command reservists opened a joint operations room with Magen David Adom paramedics to take calls from the public. Home Front Command teams are also present at every local authority in Israel to provide assistance.
At this stage, the source said, the personnel are only providing information to the civilian authorities, not managing responses.
That may change in the future, however.
“If the condition of the patient deteriorates, we will immediately be able to treat them and they will not die at home,” Bennett said, speaking in Tel Aviv. “We have a huge objective: We want as many carriers to arrive here. These centers will be an island of pleasantness and calm, a home to mild corona carriers in the coming months.”
“I want to tell the public: We will get through this event together,” said Bennett. “We are in an event that is unprecedented in the past 100 years. The big objective is to track down the carriers and isolate them from the population.”
He added that Israel is experiencing an exponential growth of infected people. “We don’t know what the coming month will hold. The national goal is to suppress the spike, so that we do not reach the Italian situation in which hospitals collapse under the pressure, in which a hospital doctor has to choose who will live and who will die,” added Bennett.
Addressing members of the public, Bennett said “there are those among you who are carriers of this virus at this time, and that’s alright. You don’t know it, and you will not know it. The mortality rate among young people is very low. I am this saying with caution, on the basis of the information coming in from the whole world.
“The mortality rate among elderly carriers is very high. Among 80-year-olds and over, it’s one out of five,” he continued. “One out of five grandparents infected by this virus because their grandchild hugged them could die. The national mission is to wrap them with love, but from afar. Protect grandfather and grandmother. You are ticking bombs to them.”