Coronavirus cabinet: Prepare for 4,000 ventilated patients

Ministers raise fine on not wearing a mask to NIS 500 • Death toll hits 307

The coronavirus cabinet during a meeting on Wednesday (photo credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO)
The coronavirus cabinet during a meeting on Wednesday
(photo credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO)
The coronavirus cabinet has determined that the health system should prepare for as many as 4,000 intubated patients during the second coronavirus wave, at least half of them who would be infected with the novel virus. At the same time, the cabinet approved increasing fines on people who do not wear masks in public spaces from NIS 200 to NIS 500, and empowering local inspectors to administer these fines.
The cabinet ministers also determined to immediately evaluate the list of communities to be declared red or restricted zones, and that the country will focus on continuing to protect at-risk groups, such as senior citizens.
“We are facing a systematic increase in morbidity. We see this not only here, but I regret that we also see it around the world,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. “All the necessary preventative measures will be taken.”
The six-hour meeting came on the backdrop of a sharp spike in coronavirus patients.
As of Monday night, there have been a total of 21,082 people infected with coronavirus – an increase of 348 since the night before. The number of patients in serious condition continues to climb, reaching 44, among them 29 who are intubated.
Also, more people died overnight Sunday, bringing the total to 307. There are currently 5,007 active cases of the virus in Israel.
Over the past few days, the numbers have been particularly high. According to Health Ministry director-general Chezy Levy, some 1,700 people were diagnosed with coronavirus last week alone. Last Thursday, 349 people were diagnosed with coronavirus, and in a 24-hour period over the weekend, 294 more people were diagnosed.
Specifically, the ministers approved a proposal by the Health, Finance and Defense ministries to set up an outbreak scenario, which would include equipping the health system with enough ventilators to treat at least 4,000 patients: 2,000 with coronavirus and 2,000 who suffer from other illnesses.
The Defense Ministry explained in a statement that it presented the coronavirus cabinet with an “extreme scenario” model based on international data. In that scenario, Israel could see up to 2,500 coronavirus patients on ventilators, 7,500 in hospital, 125,000 infected and many hundreds dead.
“This is not a forecast but the operational scenario recommended by the Defense Ministry for the state in terms of the tools it should have prepared,” a statement by the ministry explained.
The Prime Minister’s Office further added: “The definition will guide the government on the preparedness and equipping of the health system. This scenario is focused on capacity building and not a prediction of patients.”

ALONGSIDE THE increased fine for not wearing masks, the cabinet decided that a “National Enforcement Administration” will be established under the authority of the Public Security Ministry, whose function will be the coordination and guidance of all enforcement agencies. Local authority inspectors will receive training and be part of the enforcement team. A meeting will be held between the heads of the municipalities and the Foreign Affairs, Finance and Public Security ministers to move this idea forward.
The inspectors will also be charged with ensuring that businesses follow the Health Ministry’s “Purple Ribbon” safety standards.
The Police said they administered more than 1,500 fines in the previous day.
During the meeting, Netanyahu addressed the recordings of a previous coronavirus cabinet meeting that were leaked to the media, which highlighted the conflict between the prime minister and the Shin Bet regarding using the agency’s technology to track coronavirus patients. Netanyahu believes the Shin Bet is needed for effective contact tracing and the agency does not want to be involved in this unless “there is no alternative solution.”
Netanyahu said that, “First of all, I would like to start with the grave incident of the recording of a coronavirus committee meeting that was broadcast in the media. In all my years as prime minister, I do not remember such a thing, neither from a cabinet meeting nor from the coronavirus cabinet – a discussion with the head of the Shin Bet. This is very grave,” he said.
“This cannot be ignored,” he continued. “I ask all the relevant authorities, including the attorney-general, to enable a thorough investigation. We cannot allow such a thing to take root. We cannot allow this to recur.”
Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit said that he would consider Netanyahu’s request.
The cabinet ministers also determined that testing will immediately be done in areas designated as red or restricted zones, and that the country will focus on continuing to protect at-risk groups, such as senior citizens.
The cabinet also called for examining, with the Civil Service Commissioner, the option of returning public service workers to a capsule model.
Finally, it approved allowing summer school programs and camps to open.