Fear of contracting coronavirus is causing many Israelis to avoid seeking medical treatment, which is resulting in preventable deaths, according to the country’s hospitals.

At Sourasky Medical Center in Tel Aviv, a man died of septic shock after arriving at the emergency room for urinary retention, an easily treatable condition, according to the hospital. In another case, a man who waited six days to seek treatment for intestinal bleeding—a life-threatening condition—was brought into the emergency room, unconscious.

“We are seeing about an 80 percent drop in justified visits to the emergency room. In life-threatening situations, people need to come and not worry about corona,” said Dr. Guy Lahat, director of the Surgery Division at Sourasky Medical Center. “I couldn’t have believed we’d see cases of neglect like this. Patients are saying explicitly that they didn’t come [to the emergency room] because they were afraid of [coronavirus],” he added.

Lahat stressed that emergency rooms separate patients with signs of respiratory distress, or who are suspected of having coronavirus, from the rest of the patient population. Medical staff wear protective gear, he added.

Shmulik Ben-Yaakov, chairman of the Society for Patient Rights in Israel, also expressed concern that patients were avoiding treatment.

“People who are dealing with chronic illnesses could stop their ongoing treatment and put themselves in danger,” said Ben-Yaakov.

On Monday, the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel published a report that estimated that in addition to the number of deaths in Israel caused directed by COVID-19, the country could see “indirect” deaths resulting from shortages of medical staff, and the fact that the health-care system is currently focused on battling the epidemic.

The Taub report estimated that anywhere from 460 to 4,600 people could become indirect victims of the corona epidemic in the next six months.

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

Support Jewish Journalism
with 2020 Vision

One of the most intriguing stories of the sudden Coronavirus crisis is the role of the internet. With individuals forced into home quarantine, most are turning further online for information, education and social interaction.

JNS's influence and readership are growing exponentially, and our positioning sets us apart. Most Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas. JNS is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

During this crisis, JNS continues working overtime. We are being relied upon to tell the story of this crisis as it affects Israel and the global Jewish community, and explain the extraordinary political developments taking place in parallel.

Our ability to thrive in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters. Monthly donations in particular go a long way in helping us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make during these challenging times. We thank you for your ongoing support and wish you blessings for good health and peace of mind.