Israeli hospitals brace for new wave of coronavirus
Hospitals across the country on Wednesday expressed concern over the coronavirus wave, saying they were preparing for a potential fourth wave of COVID-19 in Israel.
“The medical teams are exhausted, they have not yet recovered from the previous waves and will not be able to withstand another,” a health official told Ynet on Wednesday as he urged people to get vaccinated.
Despite concerns from the Ministry of Health, there has so far been no increase in hospitalizations and severe cases.
The Rambam healthcare campus in Haifa is the only hospital in northern Israel currently treating coronavirus patients. There are three people hospitalized in isolation in an internal medicine department after the closure of the underground coronavirus department which had been operating since last October.
Among the patients is a vaccinated woman in her twenties who is pregnant with twins. She suffers from mild symptoms after receiving two doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
Other patients include a woman who recently returned from a trip overseas and reportedly in moderate condition, and a 70-year-old man in severe condition with respiratory distress.
Although the number of severe cases remains stable, some health officials remain concerned. “It was obvious to us that removing the mask warrant was a mistake,” an official said. “Most hospitals have kept the mandate in place in their facilities despite its removal and it seems they were right to do so,” he said.
“This is the time to remind people that the pandemic is not over, and we must not be complacent,” said Rian Amin, a nurse who has been treating patients with COVID-19 since March of l ‘last year.
“People travel overseas and bring back new variants. Vaccines prevent serious illnesses, but we always have to be careful,” he said. “We are still in better shape than we were in previous waves of infection,” he said.
Amin said medical professionals are better prepared to treat patients and have a better understanding of the disease, but warned that capacity may change and depend on new variants and their effects on the disease.
With a recently detected coronavirus outbreak in the center of the country, Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot said its dedicated department could be reopened within minutes if needed. There are 31 active patients in the city and more than 160 others are in quarantine. The neighboring town of Modi’in has 100 confirmed cases.
Dr Yoni Shapira from Shamir Medical Center in central Israel said most of the new cases have been found in children and most of them are suffering from mild symptoms. He warned, however, that there could be more outbreaks in the near future.
“We could see an increase in hospitalizations in the coming weeks,” he said. “Hopefully there won’t be a need for it, but we are ready with staff and materials to treat more patients,” he said.
Shapira also warned that medical teams could be under emotional stress even before the number of cases spikes. “Our teams have been under terrible mental stress during the last wave of morbidity and fear that they will have to face a similar situation. But I am confident that they will behave well,” he said.
According to the health ministry, on Tuesday 50 people were hospitalized with complications from COVID in Israel, 22 of whom are believed to be in serious condition and 16 on ventilators. In total, Israel had 1,160 active virus cases as of Tuesday evening.