Israel Coronavirus Mortality Rate Surpasses U.S. for First Time Since Pandemic Began

Army intelligence report shows Israel also has higher coronavirus infection and mortality rates than U.S., France, U.K., Italy, Austria and South Korea

Ido Efrati
Ido Efrati
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A coronavirus ward in Shaare Tzedek hospital, Jerusalem, September 2020.
A coronavirus ward in Shaare Tzedek hospital, Jerusalem, September 2020.Credit: Emil Salman
Ido Efrati
Ido Efrati

The number of people dying of COVID-19 in Israel is higher on a per capita basis than in the United States, for the first time since the pandemic began. According to a report released by the IDF’s military intelligence branch on Tuesday, Israel also has a higher infection and mortality rate per million people than the United States, France, Britain, Italy, Austria and South Korea.

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Israel conducts the highest number of coronavirus tests per capita out of all these countries, but also takes the top spot for the rate of positive test results, at 14.8 percent, the report states.

Health Ministry figures show that 41 people have died of COVID-19 since Sunday evening, bringing the total number of deaths to 1,507. The latest numbers as of press time showed there were 65,025 active cases of the disease, and 755 patients in severe condition.  

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Shoppers in Jerusalem, September 2020.
Shoppers in Jerusalem, September 2020.Credit: Emil Salman

According to the “barometer” report from the Health Ministry, which monitors the situation in Israeli hospitals, 10 to 15 percent of the patients in emergency room beds are being treated for coronavirus, as are up to 40 percent of those hospitalized in internal medicine wards. The report warns about growing overcrowding in hospitals, which are being forced to allocate more resources to these patients – and this has caused a drop in the quality of the care provided to patients in other departments. Operating rooms have been closed in many hospitals, the number of intensive care beds has been reduced and outpatient care services have been canceled. 

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had held a series of discussions prior to Yom Kippur, in which he laid down guidelines required to prevent the spread of the virus as well as a work plan. The deliberations were attended by cabinet members, the directors general of several government ministries, the coronavirus policy czar and other senior officials.

Netanyahu also said that the health system must be prepared for treating 1,500 patients in serious condition beginning as of October 1.

The inter-ministerial coronavirus cabinet is meeting Tuesday to discuss a long list of proposals, and in particular ways of enforcing the lockdown, criteria for transitioning to the next phases and the means to reduce infection rates, said the Prime Minister’s Office.

As well as setting goals for a gradual exit from the lockdown, the proposals to be considered by the coronavirus cabinet will include the acquisition of vaccines, mechanisms for prevention and enforcement, and specific plans for schools and the elderly.

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