Health officials: Israel heading for corona disaster like Italy

Senior hospital officials say public does not understand how bad the situation is, hospitals may be overwhelmed like what happened in Italy.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Top medical officials at some of Israel’s biggest hospitals are warning that without a huge change in public perception, Israel is heading towards a disastrous situation like what happened in Italy earlier this year, Yediot Ahronot reported Friday.

The officials said there is a huge gap between what the public understands and the reality of a very serious situation on the ground.

“This must stop,” one unnamed official said. “The situation is much more serious than what is seen in the news.”

“The medical staffs are exhausted. The patients do not stop coming. The system is run in an uncoordinated manner. It is not clear who is running the show. Instructions are not carried out in the field. Every initiative gets stuck and fails, and the disease is spreading at an unprecedented rate. We are helpless,” the official said.

Another senior doctor warned that as the infection continues to spread and the number of Israelis hospitalized goes up unabated, Israel is on its way to being overwhelmed like the Italian medical system that could not cope with the thousands of patients who needed care during the first wave of infection in that country.

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“In the coming weeks we will have to lower the level of care for all hospital patients,” the doctor warned. “There is no choice. The staffs cannot bear this burden. It is not that the patients will not be treated at all, but the treatment will be far from the standard to which we are accustomed. It will have a price in human life, and not just among coronavirus patients.”

As of Friday, 3,157 health care workers were in mandatory quarantine after being exposed to infected people. That includes 430 doctors, 889 nurses and 1,838 others, including lab technicians and hospital staff who must stay isolated for two weeks until they can return to work if they remain healthy.

Israel was set to enter a nationwide lockdown Friday afternoon that severely restricts movement and will see many business and the education system shut down for at least three weeks.

However, the restrictions are not as severe as those imposed earlier this year, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that unless the numbers come down, more drastic steps might be needed.

“It could be that we will have no choice but to make the directives more stringent,” Netanyahu said. “I will not hesitate to add further restrictions if it is necessary.”

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“The two most important directives are to wear masks and avoid gatherings … On this there are no compromises,” Netanyahu added.

The Health Ministry announced Friday morning that another 5,238 Israelis  tested positive for the coronavirus in the past 24-hour period, bringing the total number of active cases in the country to 46,370.

Of the 1,190 people hospitalized with the virus, 577 are in serious condition with 153 of them connected to ventilators to help them breathe. Israel’s death toll since the beginning of the pandemic stands at 1,169.