Tuesday, September 28th | 22 Tishri 5782

March 30, 2020 8:29 am

As Death Toll Rises, Israel Braces for ‘5,000 Patients on Ventilators’

avatar by Israel Hayom / JNS.org

A Magen David Adom worker on the way to test a patient with symptoms of COVID-19 (coronavirus), in Jerusalem, March 16, 2020. Photo: Yonatan Sindel / Flash90.

JNS.org – As the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Israel continues to rise, Israeli health workers are saying that the worst may have yet to come. As of Monday, there were 4,347 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Israel, and 16 so far have died.

“We need to organize ourselves for a scenario of 5,000 [people] on ventilators. That means that all the hospital beds in Israel would be taken up. That’s a harsh scenario, but the numbers indicate even more than that,” Dr. Vered Ezra, head of the Israeli Health Ministry’s Medical Department, wrote to the country’s hospitals on Sunday.

“This is keeping me awake at night. This is a harsh scenario that I hope we can cope with. We will need to empty beds at geriatric hospitals for the sake of dying coronavirus patients. We are preparing to the extent that we can. It looks like we will be able to handle a turn for the worse, but there is a number that all of our preparations will be unable to handle,” she wrote.

Ezra underscored that the biggest problem was the number of patients who would need to be ventilated.

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“I’m very disturbed by the jump in the number of seriously ill and the number on ventilators. It could create major pressure on the system. From yesterday [Saturday] to today, we saw a jump of 10 in the number of patients downgraded to ‘serious’ and put on ventilators. That’s a large jump. It indicates a trend. We won’t know how to handle a number that is larger than the number of hospital beds in Israel. We need to do everything to decrease the number of patients,” Ezra warned.

Meanwhile, Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett also addressed on Sunday the scenario of hospitals not having sufficient ventilators, in which case, he said, there would be no alternative other than to write a protocol according to which doctors would decide which patients would receive them.

“It’s very difficult for me to write this, but it’s apparently necessary,” said Bennett.

Also on Sunday, over 200 reservists were called up to assist in hospitals run by the Israel Defense Forces Home Front Command.

The reservists were charged with providing logistic and managerial support in 10 hospitals, tasks that include clearing out wards and equipping them for various needs; erecting new wards; transferring medical equipment, and more.

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