With more than 500 confirmed cases of coronavirus, Israel on Thursday began preparing for its worst-case scenario, issuing a Health Ministry communique directing the country's hospitals to plan for thousands of patients in serious condition and to adapt accordingly.
The Health Ministry announced on Thursday that another 96 patients have tested positive for the novel coronavirus since Wednesday night, bringing Israel's total numbers of patients tally to 529.
All hospitals must now prepare for an intake of some 30 patients in a dedicated ward. Sheba Medical Center, Israel's biggest hospital facility, will prepare for an intake of some 50 patients. Each one will be provided with a personal ventilator in case their condition worsens.
If patient numbers surpass 1,000, internal wards will be closed and all other non-essential medical activity halted in accordance.
Hospitals have already been instructed to prepare specialized separate wards for coronavirus patients.
If the number surpasses 1,400 patients, hospitals will provide space for 420 coronavirus patients with milder symptoms who do not require close medical supervision but still need to be hospitalized.
Of the 420, 350 patients will be treated at the Geriatric Center in Rishon LeTziyon and 70 will be transferred to Shmuel Harofeh Hospital in Be'er Ya'akov, both in the center of the country.
If patient numbers surpass 1,800, all surgeries in private hospitals in Tel Aviv, Haifa and Herzilya will be halted, and they receive treat patients moved from public hospitals.
If the patient number surpasses 2,000, hotels near medial centers will take in all coronavirus patients with milder symptoms who need hospitalization.
Their close care will be handled by HMOs, whose teams will be trained and instructed accordingly.