The heads of hospitals in Israel on Sunday wrote to the Health Ministry expressing concern over the rise in hospitalization for COVID-19 patients, and urged the government to take further health mitigation measures.
"Immediate steps must be taken to slow the spread of coronavirus so that we can continue to provide the necessary medical care to all patients, those with the virus as well as all others," said the letter penned by Dr. Eytan Wirtheim, director of Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva and Prof. Arnon Afek, deputy director of Sheba Medical Center, Israel's largest hospital.
Wirtheim also heads the Union of Hospital Directors within the Israel Medical Association, and was speaking on its behalf.
The letter warned the ministry that as the third wave of the coronavirus pandemic appears to be spreading more quickly than the previous two, Israel is at the pinnacle a slippery slope and could soon find itself in dire straits.
"Though the roll out of vaccines is a positive and hopeful development, we are only at the beginning of the campaign and therefore it must not be considered a line of defense against the spread of the virus," the doctors wrote.
"We see what is happening around the world and understand the dangers posed by new strains of the virus. We insist that further restrictions must be imposed on the public," they said.
"The people of Israel desperately want to see an end to the pandemic and many among us are prepared to make the sacrifices needed to protect themselves and each other, but there must be clearer directions from the leadership at this time," they said.
Wolfson Medical Center in Holon, a suburb of Tel Aviv, on Sunda reported a sharp rise in the number of coronavirus patients it is treating. The hospital said that they are currently treating 31 patients, double the number hospitalized just two weeks ago, and that five of them are in critical condition.
Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, meanwhile, has announced it will re-open a third coronavirus ward due to its increase in patients.
And in Haifa, the Rambam Healthcare Campus, the largest hospital in northern Israel, said it is asking the IDF reopen the coronavirus ward it was running there after the COVID-19 patient load reached 87 and was continuing to rise.
Other hospitals in the north have already said their wards are at full capacity with a concerning rise in critically ill patients.
Nahariya Medical Center, close to the Lebanese border, has already opened its third coronavirus ward and says one third of all its patients are being treated for the virus and are all in serious to critical condition.
Health Minister Yuli Edelstein on Sunday called for a complete lockdown of the country for a period of two weeks in order to slow the spread of COVID-19, while Science and Technology Minister Izhar Shai insisted there was no need to increase restrictions and that the government should review the situation towards the end of the week.