The number of coronavirus patients in Israel has risen to 143, the Ministry of Health announced on Friday, marking an increase of 37 diagnoses since Thursday night.
Most of the patients are hospitalized and a handful are being treated at home. Two of the patients – a tour driver who transported Greek pilgrims found to be infected upon their return home and a worker at Ben-Gurion Airport – are still in serious condition. Five others are in moderate condition and the rest in mild condition.
Israel has taken stringent measures to curb the spread of the virus, canceling public gatherings of more than 100 people, suspending sports and cultural events, calling on employers to let staff work from home and closing schools and universities.
Rabbis are also calling on religious Jews to stay away from the Western Wall and avoid mass gatherings, including in synagogues.
Tens of thousands are also in home quarantine and anyone entering the country must spend 14 days in isolation. Non-nationals who cannot prove they have somewhere to spend this isolation period are denied entry.
The Health Ministry said that at least 2,479 healthcare workers are in quarantine for the virus, of which 1,174 are hospital employees. The number includes at least 949 doctors, 635 nurses and 171 paramedics.
The National Association of Nurses in Israel on Thursday demanded that the Health Ministry implement measures to protect medical staff from the virus.
Ilana Cohen, the head of the Association, wrote in a letter to Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar-Siman-Tov: "The medical teams in all health institutions are at the forefront of eradicating the coronavirus, and it is morally and legally necessary to provide them the best protection in order to perform their job without fear and to the best of their abilities. "
She added: "We ask that the Health Ministry issue uniform guidance to all health institutions regarding the safeguards and measures to be taken to best protect against coronavirus, including the maximum time allowed for any disposable equipment."
On Thursday, the ministry reported that a six-month-old baby had contracted the virus - the youngest patient so far in Israel. On Tuesday, it was also announced that two children in grades 4 and 6 from two elementary schools in Kfar Yona had tested positive for the virus.
The baby is being treated at home along with other family members who were found to be infected after they returned from a trip in Barcelona. The baby himself did not travel abroad.
The family members are being treated through their HMO and monitored remotely. All are experiencing minor symptoms but will hospitalized if necessary.
On Thursday evening Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that universities and schools are closed as part of measures aimed at halting the spread of the virus.
The measure, which does not include special education facilities, kindergartens and boarding schools for at-risk youth, saw 1.5 million children remain at home on Friday morning.
First published: 13:05, 03.13.20