Standing in the cold with microphone and camera at the ready, Yan Peng from Phoenix Asian news channel in China awaited news on Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's health, a story that is grabbing the world's full and undivided attention.
But the frenzy surrounding Hadassah-University Hospital in Jerusalem's Ein Kerem since Wednesday was temporarily put on hold Monday afternoon as Yan and the rest of the world's media were made to wait nearly seven hours for further news.
Between Hadassah Medical Organization director-general Prof. Shlomo Mor-Yosef's official announcements at 10:30 am and 5:10 p.m., the lull in proceedings was palpable, as many journalists, cameramen and producers desperately latched on to every rumor and minor event that might give them a story.
At about midday, Breslover hassid Daniel Ovadia could be seen handing out CDs entitled Tikkun Klali ("The General Reparation") which, he told reporters, was an original tune with words from Psalms that had been dedicated specifically to Sharon's convalescence.
Later, Hagit Rotem, deputy principal of the local Ein Harim Primary School, arrived to hand over 600 pictures and letters prepared by her pupils containing heartfelt wishes for the prime minister's speedy recovery.
Along one of the railings directly beneath Sharon's shuttered window, someone had placed a huge sign which read, "We still need you, Sharon, there is still more work be done."
Pablo Ramirez, director of Spanish company TVE, told The Jerusalem Post that this was his fifth day on the scene and that everyone "was just waiting for something to happen."
He added that he wasn't sure how long his bosses would make him stay in the area, as "interest might decrease in the next few days."
A similar sentiment was expressed by Hiroaki Kanazawa from the Nikkei newspaper in Japan, who was one of the last reporters to interview the prime minister before his stroke, but he noted that "many people in Japan are concerned about Sharon's health because they feel that instability in the Middle East may affect Japan's energy supply."
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