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Health Ministry to order 1,000 ventilators, boost ICU capabilities

The Health Ministry has placed an emergency order for 1,000 new ventilators to help treat patients sick with the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, who might require them.

According to the ministry, Israel currently has approximately 3,100 ventilators in hospitals throughout the country and another 450 more in emergency storage. The ministry has ordered an additional 1,000 ventilators in recent days due to the growing spread of the disease.

That means that Israel has about 40 available ventilators for every 100,000 people, a far larger number than the UK where the nation of some 66 million people only has 5,000 ventilators, meaning that there only about 8 per 100,000 citizens.

On Sunday, British Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Sky News that many more machines are needed. “We’re saying that if you produce a ventilator, then we will buy it. No number is too high,” he said.

A Downing Street spokesperson called on manufacturers to approach the government, “step up production of vital equipment” including ventilators and “help in this national effort.”

According to a recent report by the Center for Health Security at Johns Hopkins, the US currently has approximately 160,000 ventilators available for patient care and another estimated 10,000 in the national stockpile, available in the event of an emergency. This is approximately 52 ventilators per 100,000 citizens.

A plane organized by the Chinese Red Cross delivered 30 tons of emergency protective face masks and ventilators to Italian authorities on Thursday, where hospitals have complained of shortages. The country’s hospitals have approximately 5,200 intensive care beds equipped with full-featured ventilators, equivalent to 8.5 machines per 100,000 people.

More than 1,800 people have died in the country from the coronavirus, with all citizens being told to remain at home unless travel is essential.

“Scientists tell us that we have not yet reached the peak,” Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte told Italy’s most-read newspaper, Corriere della Sera. “These are the riskiest weeks and we need the utmost precaution,” he said, calling for a coordinated approach by European Union member states.