Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 22 October 2020

CORONAVIRUS

Tel Aviv Covid-19 ward chief warns Israeli hospitals are struggling to cope

Health officials fear a three-week lockdown may not be long or restrictive enough to slow the daily case toll

Hospital staff work at a coronavirus ward in Tel Aviv during a surge in new cases that forced Israel into a second nationwide lockdown. Reuters
Hospital staff work at a coronavirus ward in Tel Aviv during a surge in new cases that forced Israel into a second nationwide lockdown. Reuters

Inside a fast-filling coronavirus ward in a Tel Aviv hospital, doctors rush to treat critical-care patients during a surge in new cases that forced Israel into a second nationwide lockdown.

Health officials fear that the three-week lockdown, imposed last Friday, may not be long or restrictive enough to slow the daily case toll and relieve hospitals that they say could soon reach capacity.

New cases have reached daily highs of more than 5,000 among Israel's nine million population, sharply rebounding from single-digit lows that were recorded after a relatively stricter lockdown from March to May.

On the front lines of Israel's second Covid-19 wave are doctors and nurses working around the clock at Ichilov Hospital, where half of the 60 Covid-19 patients are in serious condition and require ventilation, according to a hospital spokesman.

Guy Chosen, director of Ichilov's coronavirus ward, said the hospital had begun to admit patients from Jerusalem and districts in northern Israel "because of [their] incapacity to handle this increase in numbers".

Dressed head-to-toe in protective gear, nurses on two-hour shifts weaved through the crowded ward to check on patients, separated from one another by glass and metal partitions.

"Right now we are 72 per cent full and every day we have more and more new patients. There's not enough capacity," Ichilov spokesman Avi Shoshan said.

Preparing for what he called "worst-case scenarios", Defence Minister Benny Gantz said on Monday he told the military to be ready to put up a field hospital to relieve the overload.

Some officials support tightening restrictions. While schools have been closed, Israelis are still allowed to travel to work, gather in small groups and attend protests, among a list of other exceptions.

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Updated: September 22, 2020 03:13 PM

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