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With over 2,500 confirmed cases, Israel has no exit strategy from corona crisis, official says

Health Ministry says sixth patient, 91, succumbs to COVID-19 disease. Another 41 patients are in serious condition, 66 Israelis have recovered. Senior medical expert warns that by Passover, “We may have 80,000 verified patients.”

The number of Israelis who have been diagnosed with the coronavirus climbed to 2,495 on Thursday. According to the Health Ministry, 41 patients are in serious condition, 68 are in moderate condition, and the rest are experiencing only mild symptoms.

Six Israelis have succumbed to COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. To date, 66 Israelis have recovered from it.

But Israel has a long way to go before it is able to “flatten the curb,” Prof. Gabi Barabash, a veteran physician, warned.

In a bleak prediction on Channel 12 News, Barabash, former director of the Health Ministry and former director of Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center in Tel Aviv, said, “We currently believed that there are between 45,000 and 90,000 patients in Israel who are unaware of it. By Passover, we may have 80,000 verified patients.”

Deaths worldwide from the violent pandemic have more than doubled this week, going from 10,000 to over 21,000 in the span of five days.

Also on Thursday, Blue and White MK Ofer Shelah, who heads the Knesset’s Special Committee on Dealing with the Coronavirus Pandemic, released data on the Israeli healthcare system’s ability to deal with the growing influx of serious COVID-19 patients, warning the situation is grim.

A report commissioned by the panel discovered that there are only 1,437 available respirators in Israel. In addition, according to the Health Ministry, as of January 2019, there were only 758 intensive care beds in Israel and of those, only 32 were designated as respiratory ICU beds.

“The Health Ministry said that as of today, there are 2,173 respirators in Israel, of which about one-third (708) are in use, another 28 are out of order and 1,437 are available,” the report said.

Worse, according to a Channel 13 News report, the Health Ministry has only 50 respirators in storage for use in emergency situations.

On Sunday, the ministry said it placed an emergency order for 1,000 new ventilators to help treat patients struck by the novel coronavirus.

Both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin addressed the public on Wednesday and pleaded Israelis of all creeds to comply with the restrictions issued by the government in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Netanyahu warned that a full lockdown was inevitable, as did National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat, who delivered brief remarks as well.

Ben-Shabbat appeared before the Knesset’s Special Committee on Dealing with the Coronavirus Pandemic on Thursday and said that the government had “no clear exirt strategy” from the COVID-19 pandemic.

He admitted that “the decisions taken by the government are not perfect,” in terms on managing the corona crisis, adding that further measures will be adopted as the outbreak continues to unfold.