Israel Suffers First COVID-19 Fatality as Number of Infected Passes 1,000

March 23, 2020

by: Kate Norman

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A Magen David Adom worker

Monday, 23 March 2020 | The COVID-19 coronavirus claimed its first victim in Israel over the weekend. A Holocaust survivor, 88-year-old Aryeh Even passed away late Friday night after battling the virus with multiple preexisting conditions.

Israel has 1,238 confirmed cases as of Monday morning, though the numbers continue to rise hourly, partially to the spike in tests being administered daily.

Of those cases, 24 people are in serious condition, the Jerusalem Post reported, and 24 are in moderate condition. However, most patients are in mild or light condition, and already 37 people have recovered from the illness.

The virus has proven to be dangerous for elderly people and those with weak immune systems and preexisting conditions, especially respiratory illnesses. Younger victims are generally affected much more mildly and sometimes don’t display any symptoms at all.

Israel’s government has been issuing increasingly strict restrictions over the past few weeks to slow the spread of the virus within the Jewish state and prevent Israel’s hospitals from being overwhelmed with an influx of patients.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other leaders have urged people to stay home, except for necessary errands, including trips to the grocery store, to buy medical supplies or seek medical attention, to go to work (for those who have not been sent home to work remotely or on leave) and other essential trips.

People who leave their homes must maintain strict personal hygiene and a 2-meter (6.5-ft) distance. Outdoor exercise is allowed, but in groups of five people or smaller (unless they are from the same household), maintaining the required distance. No more than two people are allowed to ride in a private car at once, again unless they’re from the same household.

Israeli police are cracking down on violators of quarantine and public guidelines “with the aim of preventing the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Israel,” the Ministry of Public Security said in a statement yesterday.

“The Israel Police is continuing to carry out intensive activity, both overt and covert, to assist the Ministry of Health in the enforcement effort,” the statement said, though it did not elaborate on how police are enforcing the guidelines.

The Health Ministry did announce last week fines of NIS 3,000 to 5,000 (US $837 to $1,400) for violating quarantine or bans on crowding.

“Observe the guidelines—save lives!” the Ministry urged.

Israel’s economy, like the rest of the world, is being severely impacted by the viral crisis. Netanyahu has been meeting with multiple officials to determine how to deal with the economic effects.

The “Start-up Nation” is wielding technology in the battle against the corona conundrum. Israel has developed an app called Hamagen that tracks the movement of users and cross references them with the movements of confirmed cases of the virus. That allows people to know if they have come into contact with an infected person and need to enter into quarantine.

The number of confirmed cases and deaths worldwide rose again over the weekend. Confirmed cases across the world are now just under 295,000 in 186 countries, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), with nearly 13,000 deaths. The countries with the most reported cases are China, Italy, Spain, Iran, Germany, the US, France and South Korea. Germany, the US and France rose in the ranks over the weekend, surpassing South Korea.

The nurse who took care of Israel’s first casualty wrote a public tribute to him, which circulated throughout social media over the weekend.

“My heart is broken. On Friday night my worst fears were realized as I watched my beloved patient, Aryeh Even, take his last breaths on earth,” nurse Rachel Gemara wrote of the Hungarian-born Holocaust survivor. Even reportedly left behind four children, 18 grandchildren and a great-grandchild.

“You’ve touched my heart, the staff, and the patients that surrounded you,” she concluded. “I know your life will inspire the rest of Am Yisrael as well. Go in peace, go to your resting place in peace. Look out for us from above.”

Posted on March 23, 2020

Source: (Bridges for Peace, March 23, 2020)

Photo Credit: Talmoryair/

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