Coronavirus cabinet to meet today, as seriously ill spike

Hospitals began turning away coronavirus patients and shutting down internal medicine wards on Monday as the number of those seriously ill spiked.The coronavirus cabinet is expected to meet on Tuesday to outline a list of new restrictions that could be implemented immediately after Yom Kippur next week.Both Samson Assuta Ashdod University Hospital and Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem on Monday said they could accommodate no more coronavirus cases. Health Ministry director-general Chezy Levy called on hospitals to cease offering elective surgery and other services and instead focus on COVID-19.“This is urgent,” he said in a letter to hospital CEOs. “I expect everyone to act with personal responsibility and determination.”Meanwhile, the IDF on Monday announced it would open a 200-bed field hospital to help accommodate patient overflow.The cabinet met Monday to discuss the next steps in the fight against coronavirus. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Health Minister Yuli Edelstein are pushing to step up restrictions immediately following Yom Kippur next Monday. They could include shuttering synagogues, requiring worshipers to gather outside, stricter restrictions on private businesses and more constraints on demonstrations.The coronavirus cabinet will meet on Tuesday to debate possible directives.“Since we made the decision about the lockdown, there has been a consistent rise in the number of serious patients,” Netanyahu said at the cabinet meeting. “Therefore, tomorrow at the coronavirus cabinet meeting, we will consider further steps.“Anyone who violated the directives or, worse than that, any MK who pushed for looser restrictions, should not ask afterward why the infection rate is rising and should not now come with complaints. The reason for the infection rate is gatherings and people not wearing masks.”Levy’s letter came as Assuta’s spokesperson said in a statement: “Assuta Ashdod Hospital is at maximum occupancy. The situation is clear, and the Health Ministry and Magen David Adom are aware. Verified patients who arrive at the hospital will be transferred to another facility.” Shaare Zedek issued the same message.In Nahariya, The Galilee Medical Center director-general Dr. Masad Barhoum said his hospital would open a fourth coronavirus ward by Tuesday at the expense of an internal medicine ward.“This is the second internal medicine ward that is becoming a coronavirus ward,” Barhoum said. “We will have to use anesthetics as part of a [coronavirus] team to treat serious patients, so we will have no choice but to postpone elective surgery.”At the time of Barhoum’s statement on Monday, some 89 patients were hospitalized in The Galilee Medical Center, nearly 50 of whom were in serious condition, including 14 who were intubated.On Tuesday, the Health Ministry reported that 3,843 new cases were diagnosed on Monday, as well as another 413 between midnight and Tuesday morning. However, only around 33,119 people were screened on Monday, meaning that roughly 11.6% of them or about one in every nine tested positive for the virus.More than 1,300 people are being treated in the country’s hospitals, including some 653 in serious condition.Israel shut down beginning on Rosh Hashanah for what is expected to be a three-week closure. However, as many health experts have pointed out, the closure has a lot of flexibility of movement for citizens and is not expected to reduce morbidity very fast.Coronavirus commissioner Prof. Ronni Gamzu last week said this type of lockdown could be expected to reduce morbidity to around 3,000 patients per day at the end of three weeks. The country could see 800 patients in serious condition within a week, he told Channel 12 on Sunday night.If Israel has 900 serious cases, then the hospitals may not be able to provide optimal care, Levy told Channel 12 on Tuesday. In places where people are “defiant, we need to step up restrictions,” he said.Netanyahu said a decision would be made on Tuesday regarding hospitals.
DURING THE first wave of COVID-19 cases, hospitals were asked to cease all nonessential medical services. Many people who required treatment for diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes did not receive the health services and medicines they needed.“When diagnoses are not made, treatments start later, and people present [themselves at the hospital] with more severe diseases,” Arnon Afek, deputy director-general of Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, said in a recent interview. “The result is that patients will be sicker when they come in for care,…

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