There are 109 people in Israel diagnosed with the coronavirus, with two patients in serious condition and three in moderate condition, Israel’s Health Ministry announced on Thursday.
The condition of a 60-year-old employee of Ben-Gurion Airport hospitalized in Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv with the coronavirus deteriorated on Wednesday. He is currently unconscious and on a respirator.
The condition of the second seriously ill Israeli, an East Jerusalem resident hospitalized in Poriya Hospital in Tiverya has slightly improved and his condition is stable. The patient contracted the virus after serving as a bus driver for a group of Greek tourists who had toured Israel and Egypt and were diagnosed with the virus upon their return to Greece.
Greece announced on Thursday that one of the tourists, a 66-year-old man with underlying health issues, has died – Greece’s first fatality from the virus. There are currently 99 people in Greece who have been diagnosed with the virus.
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An 18-month-old toddler was diagnosed with the virus on Thursday as well as a 17-year-old, the Health Ministry said.
There are also two children among the new cases, a 10-year-old resident of the central town of Azor who traveled to Madrid with his father to attend a soccer match, and his 11-year old sister who caught the virus from her brother or father who was also diagnosed with the virus.
The new cases also include a 70-year-old American tourist in moderate condition. She is hospitalized in Poriya Hospital with breathing difficulties and viral pneumonia. Other new cases include two women in their 60s who recently returned to Israel from a trip to Moscow and New York and three people who recently returned to Israel from Germany.
There are also five Israelis from Leshem, a yishuv in Shomron, who have been diagnosed with the virus. The five had been on a ski vacation together in Austria and have been in self-quarantine in an apartment outside the Shomron since their return.
The Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer announced on Thursday that one of its emergency medicine doctors have been diagnosed with the coronavirus. The doctor returned from France on March 2, prior to Israel’s announcement that all travelers from the country must self-quarantine and worked one shift before entering self-quarantine. Anyone in contact with him will be instructed to self-quarantine.
Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem announced on Thursday that everyone entering the hospital will have their temperature checked at the entrance.
Entire schools have emptied due to teachers or students who have been diagnosed with the virus, requiring all students and staff in contact with the patient to self-quarantine, including the dati leumi Makor Chaim yeshivah in Gush Etzion, whose Rosh Yeshivah, Rav Dov Zinger, was diagnosed with the virus, the Yoseftal Elementary school in the town of Azor, where the two children diagnosed with the virus attend, a junior high school in Kochav Yair and a high school in Modiin.
A teacher in the Modiin high school was diagnosed with the virus on Wednesday and the Modiin municipality worked throughout the night on Wednesday and Thursday morning to contact 94 students and 80 staff members who are required to self-quarantine. The school has been closed until Sunday and is being thoroughly disinfected.
Also, 60 students from a Karlin-Stolin yeshivah ketanah in Kiryat Sefer were sent into quarantine after it was discovered that they had been in Ir Dovid in the Old City of Jerusalem at the same time as German tourists who were diagnosed with the virus.
The Teachers Union of Israel sent a letter to Netanyahu on Thursday requesting that he close all schools in Israel and transfer students to distant learning. “Israel is one of the most crowded countries in the world,” wrote the chairwoman of the union, adding that other countries, including Poland, Italy, Sweden and Denmark have closed their schools, reducing the number of coronavirus cases.
“Schools and pre-schools are incubators of infectious diseases, creating a significant and immediate danger to students, teachers and their family members…” the chairwoman wrote. “We won’t be able to halt the spread of the virus across Israel if it infects entire schools.”
The Education Ministry held an assessment meeting on Thursday and announced that there is currently no need to close schools but Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is currently considering closing all schools until at least Pesach.
An announcement regarding large academic institutions, including yeshivahs, which house thousands of students, is expected later on Thursday.
The US Embassy in Jerusalem announced on Thursday that a visitor to the embassy’s Tel Aviv branch on March 5 was diagnosed with the virus. The embassy, in coordination with the Health Ministry, advised all visitors to the Non-Immigrant Visa Section waiting room in the Tel Aviv Embassy branch between 10:30 am. – 12:30 p.m. on March 5 to self-quarantine.
The Health Ministry‘s Director-General Moshe Bar Siman-Tov said on Thursday morning on Army Radio that he is expecting at least dozens of Israelis and maybe more to be diagnosed with the virus every day in the near future. Also on Thursday, an Army Radio report said that the Health Ministry had ordered tens of thousands of anti-malarial and anti-AIDS medications believed to effective for treating seriously ill coronavirus patients.
About 2,000 Israeli Sherut Leumi volunteers abroad were ordered to return to Israel and were slated to depart on Wednesday night.
The last two Israeli passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, Oded and Rochela Ofaraim, have returned to Israel from Japan. The couple tested negative for the virus upon their arrival in Israel but are nevertheless required to self-quarantine for two weeks in their home.
Israel Railways announced that their service is being reduced as of Thursday due to a large number of staff currently in quarantine. There will be no trains for the time being on the Beit Shemesh-Jerusalem, Beer Sheva-Dimona, Lod-Rishonim lines and no night trains on the Beer Sheva-Ben-Gurion line.
The Israel Prisons Service announced on Thursday that 119 prisoners and 25 members of the prison staff are being isolated at the Russian Compound Center in Jerusalem after a detention officer was placed in quarantine due to contact with someone diagnosed with the coronavirus.
On Wednesday, the Israel Prisons Service announced it was dedicating the Saharonim Prison in southern Israel to house prisoners who test positive for the coronavirus although no Israeli prisoners have yet been diagnosed with the virus.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced on Wednesday night that gatherings of over 100 people are banned and advised universities to prepare for online teaching in light of their possible closure.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)