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Gov’t mulls imposing extensive civilian restrictions as number of corona cases climbs

Nearly 40,000 Israelis are currently under home quarantine, as are 2,479 healthcare workers, including 949 doctors.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Israel has jumped to 164, the Health Ministry announced on Friday evening. Three of the patients are said to be in serious condition.

On Thursday, Dr. Avi Irony – head of the emergency department at Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer – along with other emergency room doctors and 11 nurses were put under quarantine, after one of the doctors contracted coronavirus while visiting France. The doctor who returned from France worked two shifts in the emergency room before the quarantine protocol was updated. Every patient he treated will be contacted.

This week Assuta Hospital’s Ramat HaHayal branch in north Tel Aviv was forced to cut back on the number of scheduled operations after 28 operating room nurses were exposed to a colleague identified as having contracted the virus. That nurse was not in contact with any patients.

A total of 16 staff members at Sourasky Medical Center in Tel Aviv are hospitalized in isolation after coming into contact with a coronavirus patient who was treated in the hospital’s emergency room using standard protocols.

Eight of the staff at Rabin Medical Center in Petach Tikva are hospitalized in isolation, as are eight staff members at Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba.

Dr. Zeev Feldman, chairman of the Organization of the State Employed Physicians of Israel and deputy head of the Israeli Medical Association, said, “We must ensure the protection of medical staff in order to handle the coronavirus. We, the medical teams, are in the eye of the storm.

“The men and women of Israel expect us to give them the best medical treatment possible, and we expect the government of Israel to supply us with the equipment, protection, and of course the best expert guidance for how to treat patients while protecting our safety,” Feldman said.

The Health Ministry has issued new protective gear protocols for doctors ordering them to wear surgical masks every time they treat any patient suffering from respiratory illness.