Bnei Brak hospital’s coronavirus ward at 126% capacity as cases surge

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“We are on the verge of collapse.”

Israeli police officers take out ultra-Orthodox Jewish men from the Ponevezh Yeshiva in Bnei Brak, as part of an effort to enforce lockdown in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, April 2, 2020. (photo credit: FLASH90)

Israeli police officers take out ultra-Orthodox Jewish men from the Ponevezh Yeshiva in Bnei Brak, as part of an effort to enforce lockdown in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, April 2, 2020.

(photo credit: FLASH90)

Bnei Brak’s Mayanei HaYeshua Medical Center reported Friday that its coronavirus ward was at 126% capacity, reinforcing a decision by the coronavirus cabinet on Thursday to move the country toward a High Holiday closure.

According to the Health Ministry, the coronavirus ward at Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center is also overcapacity at 106%.

There were 2,132 coronavirus patients in Bnei Brak on Friday and 4,491 in Jerusalem.

“We are on the verge of collapse,” said the CEO of Haifa’s Bnai Zion Medical Center, Dr. Ohad Hochman. “Our medical staff is burning out and the decision makers needed to take that into account.”

The Health Ministry showed Bnai Zion’s coronavirus ward at 59% capacity. However, Hochman said that “Inadequacy cannot be determined solely by the number of difficult patients hospitalized in the hospitals. The medical staff has been working around the clock, they did not go on vacation and, moreover, they are performing some of the most difficult work.”

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Hochman’s statements came on the same day that the Health Ministry reported a peak in new coronavirus diagnoses – 4,217 in a single day. There were 979 Israelis being treated in the hospital out of nearly 36,000 active patients. Of those in the hospital, 486 were in serious condition, including 146 who were intubated.

Late Thursday, after nearly six hours of debate, the coronavirus cabinet determined to lockdown Israel for two weeks, enact a set of serious restrictions the next two weeks and ultimately role back to coronavirus commissioner Prof. Ronni Gamzu’s traffic light plan.

Beginning next week, as long as the government approves the plan, Israelis will not be allowed to travel more than 500 meters from their home for two weeks. Schools, restaurants and places of recreation will all be closed. Businesses are also being asked to shutter or have their employees work from home.

Rosh Hashanah prayers will take place, but in open spaces and with limited attendees per service – 10 inside and 20 outside.

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Despite the upcoming serious restrictions and the spike in cases, Israelis continue to break basic Health Ministry directives. The Israel Police reported closing down an event hall in the Arab town of Baka al-Gharbiyye, near Haifa, after a large wedding took place on Thursday night. More than 100 guests took part in the celebration.

“The health system is looking for solutions to the collapse of the hospitals,” tweeted MK Yulia Malinovsky (Yisrael Beiteinu) on Thursday, “Here is a solution: Use the IDF’s capabilities to open a field hospital in the North.”

Last week, Dr. Yehezkel Caine, director-general of Jerusalem’s Herzog Hospital, told The Jerusalem Post, that if the number of COVID-19 patients continued to grow that “there just wouldn’t be enough beds.”

He described a scene that could happen in December where emergency rooms would be operating out of hotels or in tents in hospital parking lots due to the influx of flu and coronavirus patients.

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When that happens, “I am sure patients are not going to get the treatment they need,” Caine said. “It is a difficult thing to say, but at the end of the day, it is a zero-sum game. Doctors and nurses can only do so much, and they are already overextended. It could be catastrophic.”

More than 90 people died in the last week, bringing the death toll to 1,090.

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