As the number of Israelis diagnosed with the coronavirus continued to climb, Defense Minister Naftali Bennett authorized the mobilization of another 2,500 IDF reservists to help deal with the continued spread of the deadly virus.
The order came shortly after the Health Ministry called on Israelis to remain home unless absolutely necessary as the number of Israelis with the virus stands at over 300 individuals.
The number of reservists authorized by Bennett are in addition to the 2,000 he authorized on Sunday for the Homefront Command which is working alongside Magen David Adom, the Health Ministry and other government bodies.
Earlier in the day Bennett called on Israelis to stay away from the elderly in order to protect them from getting the virus.
Bennett, who was speaking at the opening of Tel Aviv’s Dan Panorama Hotel as a corona quarantine facility, dubbed the order “Operation Save Grandma.”
“We must protect grandma. There are a lot of things that we need to do, but the information coming in from around the world teaches us clearly that the deadliest connection is between a grandparent and their grandchild, between an elderly person and a young person,” he said.
“I’m saying cautiously based on the information coming from all over the world. The mortality rate among young people is low but the death rate among the elderly is very high. Among those 80 years old and up, it is above one in five. One in five grandfathers and grandmothers who get the virus from their grandchild hugging them could die. Watch out for your grandparents. You're a ticking bomb to them."
According to Bennett, the use of the hotels as quarantine facilities for those only mildly ill would not only isolate those with the virus from the general public but would also allow the patients to receive proper medical care if their conditions worsen.
"We took on the task on Saturday and now, Tuesday noon, we're operational,” he said.“We have a goal of getting as many virus carriers as we can fit in here. These hotels will be an island of tranquility and home to the coronavirus patients in mild condition.”
An initial 20 patients will be accommodated at the Dan Panorama hotel with the numbers expanding as needed. The quarantine facility at Jerusalem’s Dan hotel will open later this week.
The hotel will include a separated situation room to allow coordination between the medical services as well as medical surveillance teams to the hotel management team and the Israel Police, whose role is to enforce the entry to the facility.
No unauthorized entry will be allowed.
The hotels will be under the management and command of a senior reserve officer operating under the Home Front districts. On Tuesday morning, logistical-medical equipment was made available for use by the medical staff staying at the facility. The admission of patients will be done in coordination and written referrals of the patient’s medical clinics and medical treatment will be under the responsibility of the Ministry of Health.
As of Tuesday evening, there were 324 Israelis diagnosed with the virus, including six IDF soldiers. Another 4,267 IDF servicemen and women are currently in quarantine, including 117 lone soldiers who are currently being housed at a military resort facility in the northern coastal town of Givat Olga.
Despite that a state of emergency has yet to be declared, Bennett convened an emergency finance committee on Tuesday with senior government officials to prepare various options should it be declared.
While Bennett said that the state’s inventories are fully stocked and all trade in food products and other basic necessities “continue as usual, but in the course of a few days or a week or two, these things may also be affected.”
"There is an accelerated increase in the daily rate of those infected with coronavirus. Needless to say, we do not know how many carriers there are in the State of Israel right now, there may be the official number of about 250, or there may be 500, 2,000 or even 5,000 That are moving around between us, by the way, this is a problem the whole world is currently facing,” he said, adding that Israel must “get ahead of the virus, to be constantly one or two steps ahead of the coronavirus.”