Health CEO: 38% of Bnei Brak residents – 75,000 – infected with coronavirus

Israeli health provider Maccabi estimates 75,000 people in Bnei Brak – more than one third of the city’s residents – are positive for the virus. Infection rates continue to soar.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Ran Sa’ar, CEO of Maccabi, one of Israel’s largest health providers, made a shocking declaration on Thursday, estimating that 38 percent of Bnei Brak residents, or 75,000 people, are infected with the coronavirus.

On Thursday morning, the Ministry of Health announced a total of 900 confirmed coronavirus cases in Bnei Brak, a 25 percent increase in new diagnoses in a 24-hour period.

According to Ministry of Health statistics, one out of seven confirmed coronavirus patients in Israel are residents of the city of Bnei Brak. But Sa’ar suspects the true number to be much higher.

“I urge the authorities to place police in the city before Passover to enforce the Ministry of Health guidelines, otherwise the situation will deteriorate further,” Sa’ar said in a statement. “Bnei Brak is a city with a significant elderly population, and if we don’t prepare ourselves, we will find ourselves with a lot of dead in the city.”

On Thursday, the municipality of the neighboring city of Ramat Gan petitioned the Supreme Court to immediately place the entire city of Bnei Brak under quarantine. The request asked for parts of Bnei Brak to be declared closed military zones, and for the authorities to provide residents with food and medicine so that there was no reason for them to leave their homes.

The petition also asked for all synagogues in Bnei Brak to be locked, likely due to a report Wednesday of a synagogue in the city continuing to operate in spite of directives banning all group prayer.

Although Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Wednesday night that entry and exit from Bnei Brak would be limited, as of Thursday morning it appeared that no new policy had been enacted and free passage in and out of the city was still possible.

“There has been a very positive shift in the haredi public,” the prime minister said in his address to the nation, praising the haredi community for quickly adapting to the Ministry of Health guidelines. “But unfortunately, in some places, the disease has already spread at double the rate of the rest of the country and continues to double.”