Photo Credit: Hadassah International video screenshot
Professor Ze'ev Rotstein

The CEO of Hadassah Hospital, Professor Ze’ev Rotstein, told Reshet Bet radio on Sunday night that he did not expect the coronavirus epidemic to spread to Israel.

Professor Rotstein said “it isn’t wise to assume that there will be an epidemic in the country. Maybe one or two patients, even ten, will arrive. But our system is well honed, and the diagnosis is made fast – so there is no chance of reaching the level of an epidemic. Those few ones who do come we’ll have no problem isolating them at the hospitals.”

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Rotstein added: “I think we should have no problem and should not go into a panic over the corona. The epidemic today is one of panic, that’s how everyone reacts. Everyone is in a panic and this is how the world is carrying on. This is unnecessary and if we apply common sense we will know how to deal with the real situation.”

He said medical equipment providers had drastically raised prices, so that a serious shortage of essential equipment is expected, including drugs, some of which are manufactured in China, which is in paralysis.

Meanwhile, emergency room and infections unit managers from all the hospitals in Israel on Sunday evening alerted the Health Ministry about a lack of sufficient equipment to deal with the coronavirus – should the country suddenly be invaded by hordes of virus carrying patients. They said there were not enough masks, and the gowns are not of high-quality, are not water-resistant and can tear, so they are not effective in insulation conditions.

Hospital administrators told the Health Ministry that they would not be able to sustain great pressure from people who need testing and isolation, and that a wave of imagined coronavirus-carrying patients might paralyze the emergency rooms. Although, given that most emergency rooms in Israel are already paralyzed, they didn’t say how they would tell the difference.

Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama (Jun. 2014)

Health Ministry Deputy Director General Itamar Grotto, who flew to Japan to help return the Israelis aboard the pleasure cruise Diamond Princess, told Kan 11 News: “They’re undergoing tests now. Anyone who gets a negative result can leave the ship, at which point it would be my job to make sure they get home safely.”

The three insurance companies that cover Israeli passengers onboard the Diamond Princess who have not been diagnosed as coronavirus carriers, on Sunday announced that they would jointly lease a plane to bring them to Israel. The Harel Group Insurance company said it would pay for the flight of three of the Israelis who don’t have insurance. The plane is waiting in Turkey, and it is still unclear when it will depart.

The Israeli Health Ministry on Sunday expanded the list of countries that Israeli travelers who had been there must remain in isolation for two weeks. The ministry added Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore and Macau.

El Al Airlines canceled 50% of its flights to Bangkok, Thailand in both directions. The company says that “flights to Bangkok and from Bangkok to Tel Aviv are indeed canceled.”

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