Israel locked down the hard-hit community of Bnei Brak, but the death toll continued to rise in other parts of the country on Saturday.
By World Israel News Staff and AP
As of Saturday evening, 44 people in Israel had died from COVID-19, with 7,589 cases diagnosed and 98 people on ventilators.
The casualties on Saturday ranged in age from 67 to 88 years of age.
One of the deceased was named as Holocaust survivor Dr. Nelia Kravitz, a physician who worked at Beersheba’s Soroka Medical Center for two decades, various Israeli outlets reported.
The condition of Israel’s youngest corona victim, a 22-year-old patient who had been treated at Ashdod’s Assuta Medical Center, continued to worsen on Friday. The young man was placed on life support and transferred to Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv to receive additional treatments.
By Friday, the city of Bnei Brak, which is close to Tel Aviv, had become the country’s worst hot spot and was virtually sealed off from the rest of the country by Israeli authorities. The military sent troops in to assist, with one expert estimating that nearly 40% of the city’s population might already have been infected.
On Thursday, Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, a powerful ultra-Orthodox politician helping to lead the battle against the virus, was confirmed to be infected.
This forced Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the ministry’s director general and reportedly the head of the Mossad spy agency, into quarantine because of exposure to Litzman. Netanyahu, who tested negative, went through an identical experience after a previous exposure to an infected aide.
For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause severe symptoms like pneumonia that can be fatal.
Ran Saar, who runs the Maccabi Healthcare Services, a leading provider, told parliament he estimates some 75,000 people in Bnei Brak, or 38% of the population, could be infected. He said the city has many elderly residents and called for urgent action.
The government declared Bnei Brak a “restricted zone” on Thursday, limiting movement in and out of the city. Earlier in the day, police patrols were out in large numbers to make sure residents remained indoors.