Gantz instructs IDF to begin preparations for coronavirus field hospital

The field hospital would have some 200 beds.

Overview of the IDF emergency field hospital in Nepal (photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
Overview of the IDF emergency field hospital in Nepal
As hospital coronavirus wards edge towards full capacity, Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Monday instructed the military to begin preparing a field hospital to help out.
Gantz’s decision followed a meeting with his ministry’s director general, Maj.-Gen.(ret.) Amir Eshel and top military commanders regarding the defense establishment’s role in handling the pandemic.
After the meeting, which included a review by the IDF’s medical corps, he instructed the military to “immediately prepare to establish a field hospital in accordance with the needs of the healthcare system,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement.
Preparing the field hospital will be carried out with the Health Ministry and “will be implemented only in accordance with the urgent need of the healthcare system,” the ministry said.
Such a hospital could handle some 200 beds on the basis of allocation of IDF doctors, nurses and paramedics.
Experts expect that a field hospital dedicated to treating coronavirus patients will be more efficient in managing and training troops, rather than dispersing medical personnel at different departments in many hospitals.
The preparations are expected to take several weeks, prompting Gantz to order work to begin before the winter months, when the demand is expected to be at its height. For the hospital to operate, the IDF will need to divert medical staff from their regular positions in the military.
The Defense Ministry's announcement came hours after Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center and Assuta hospital in Ashdod stopped accepting coronavirus patients, as their wards were full.
Israel currently has at least 52,577 active coronavirus cases and some 1,256 have died since the beginning of the outbreak.
While the IDF’s field hospitals have been recognized by the World Health Organisation as some of the best in the world, achieving the agency’s first-ever "Type 3" rating in 2016, military sources have said that they are not equipped to handle pandemics such as coronavirus, as in the past, they have been deployed around the world in response to natural disasters, including many earthquakes.
Gantz also instructed the defense establishment to prepare to further support the police in the event of a continuation or expansion of the nationwide lockdown and an exit strategy in its aftermath.