Israel coronavirus death toll jumps to 21, cases spike to nearly 5,600

Almost 100 hospitalized in serious condition, slight optimism over no increase in ventilator need tempered by fears Passover holiday might spark renewed surge of infection.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

An elderly woman is Israel’s 21st coronavirus victim as the number of those infected reached 5,591, the Ministry of Health reported Wednesday.

The 98-year-old woman died at Soroka Hospital in the southern city of Beer Sheba and had suffered from complicated preexisting conditions, a hospital statement said. At the same time the hospital discharged an 18-year-old woman who had recovered after being treated for almost two weeks.

Of the 637 people hospitalized in Israel, 97 of them are in serious condition with 76 of those on ventilators, the same number as the previous day.

Health officials expressed cautious optimism that this might be a slight sign of improvement, Kan Radio reported. However, that was tempered by concerns that preparation for the Passover holiday that begins next week might prompt more infections as Israelis shop for special foods needed for the festival and go out in large numbers to supermarkets.

The Magen David Adom national ambulance service set up two mobile drive-through corona test centers Wednesday in the port city of Ashdod and in the Bedouin city of Rahat near Beer Sheba. Those are in addition to the four test centers operating daily in Israel’s four largest cities of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa and Beer Sheba.

MDA said it conducted 8,000 tests Tuesday on people suspected of being infected.

Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan said police continued to carry out “unprecedented” enforcement of movement restrictions in the predominantly Jewish ultra-orthodox city of Bnei Brak, the city with the highest infection rate in the country.

The government took the steps after some residents continued to congregate in large numbers despite emergency regulations banning large public gatherings.

Erdan told Kan News that officials know there are large numbers of infected people in the city, but they are staying at home and possibly infecting others in the family.

MDA ambulance crews were working to remove sick Bnei Brak residents to a field hospital set up at the city’s soccer stadium where their condition is assessed and they are transferred to hotels that are being used as quarantine centers.