News Digest — 4/6/20

20 Tons Of Medical Equipment Arrives In Israel From China On Flight NO.1 Of 11

Eleven airplanes containing millions of pieces of medical equipment, including ventilators, face masks and protective suits to contend with the coronavirus outbreak, will arrive in Israel from China in the coming days, the Defense Ministry said Sunday (5th).

The ministry said it coordinated the effort alongside the Foreign Ministry, ElAl and Israel Chemicals.

The first plane, which arrived Monday morning (6th), contained 900,000 surgical masks, half a million protective suits and other medical gear.  Additional protective equipment will be arriving in the coming days alongside ventilators.

Two El Al planes will fly from China each day through the rest of the week bringing more supplies, the ministry said.

The virus which causes the COVID-19 disease first spread at the end of last year in China which is known to have killed thousands of people.

The air convoy is the latest in Israel’s efforts to bring much needed supplies from abroad for use by the medical staff in the campaign to treat patients infected with the virus and prevent its further spread.

Last week the Health Ministry said the security services and government ministries had managed to obtain 27 ventilators and a hoard of other equipment from abroad.

Hebrew media reported that the Mossad Intelligence service, which has been tasked with securing medical equipment from abroad, from unspecified countries, amid world shortages, helped obtain 25,000 N95, respiratory masks, 25,000 virus test-kits, 10 million surgical masks, and 700 pair of overalls for ambulance workers who usually carry out the initial testing for the virus.

It was the third such shipment by the Mossad over the past few weeks, aimed at addressing shortages in Israel.

As of Monday morning (6th), the coronavirus death toll climbed to 51, as confirmed cases of the virus increased to 8,611, with 141 patients in severe condition, and requiring a ventilator.  A total of 585 people have recovered from the illness to date. 



‘What Else?  The 10 Plagues?’ 4.3 Earthquake Shakes Southern Israel

A small earthquake measuring 4.3 on the Richter scale was felt Sunday (5th) in the area surrounding the southern city of Eilat.

The Geological Survey of Israel said the earthquake’s epicenter was in the Gulf of Eilat some 60 miles south of the resort port city in an area between Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

There were no immediate reports of damages or injuries.

Israel is located in a geologically active region and sits on the Africa-Syria rift that runs up the border with Jordan through the Dead Sea, Jordan Valley and up to the Sea of Galilee.  The region experiences many minor earthquakes every year.

The last serious tremor in the same area was a powerful 7.3 quake in 1995 which killed eight people in Egypt and Saudi Arabia and damaged several buildings in Eilat, killing one Israeli tourist.

“Storms, Coronavirus and now an earthquake, what else?  The 10 plagues? God save us,” Eilat resident Galit Adler Malka told Ynet, referring to the upcoming Passover holiday that begins Wednesday evening (8th) and recounts the 10 plagues that preceded the biblical exodus from Egypt.

Earlier this year a magnitude 3.9 earthquake on February 6, just off the coast of northern Israel, was felt in the northern city of Haifa as well as in Jerusalem.

Seismic expert Dr. Ron Avni of Ben-Gurion University said last year that severe quakes hit Israel about once a century, with the last major event on July 11,1927 that caused massive damage and killed hundreds in the Jordan Valley.  Seismology experts have warned for years that Israel is overdue for a major earthquake.



‘Fear Of Death Rules Every Corner’ As Coronavirus Spreads Through NY’s Jewish Neighborhoods

Coronavirus has killed at least 40 Jews in New York neighborhoods over the past two days.

“Fear of death rules every corner,” one of the residents told Arutz 7.  “People shut themselves up at home, afraid the death angel will knock on their window,” he said.

“It is no longer a question of acting too late.  People are just dealing with the need to live,” he said.

Most of the dead were over 60 and included teachers and community leaders.

Included in the dead were four rabbis including, Rabbi Matis Blum, of Congregation Torah Loda’as in Queens, Rabbi Meir Rokeach, 78, leader of the Kozlover Hasidic community of Boro Park, Rabbi Dovid Olewski, the head of the Gerrer Yeshiva in Boro Park, and Rabbi Avraham Yaakov Littman, 71, a teacher who taught for many years at Yeshiva Ohel Torah in Monsey, NY.

In New York City the death toll  is over 4,000 from the COVID-19 disease.



Tiger At New York’s Bronx Zoo Tests Positive For Corona

A tiger at the Bronx Zoo has tested positive for the new coronavirus, in what is believed to be the first known infection in an animal in the U.S. or a tiger anywhere., federal officials and the zoo said Sunday (5th).

The 4-year-old Malayan tiger named Nadia – and six other tigers and lions that have also fallen ill – are believed to have been infected by a zoo employee who wasn’t yet showing symptoms, the zoo said.

The first animal started showing symptoms March 27, and all are doing well and expected to recover, said the zoo, which has been closed to the public since March 16 amid the surging coronavirus outbreak in New York.

The test result stunned zoo officials: “I couldn’t believe it,” director Jim Breheny said.  But he hopes the finding can contribute to the global fight against the virus that causes COVID-19.

“Any kind of knowledge that we get on how it’s transmitted, how different species react to it, that knowledge is going to provide a greater base-resource for people,” he said in an interview.

The finding raises new questions about transmission of the virus in animals.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which confirmed Nadia’s test result at its veterinary lab, said there are no known cases of the virus in U.S. pets or livestock.

However, there have been a handful of reports outside the U.S. of pet dogs or cats becoming infected after close contact with contagious people.

The American Veterinary Medical Association and federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been recommending that out of an abundance of caution, people ill with the coronavirus should limit contact with animals – advice that the veterinary group reiterated after learning of the tiger’s test results.

In general, the CDC also advises people to wash their hands after handling animals, and to keep their homes and pets clean. 



Millions Of Eggs Arriving In Israel To Replenish Critical Passover Staple

Israelis will hopefully heave a sigh of relief before Passover, as millions of eggs arrived at the Ashdod Port Sunday (5th) from Spain – other ships and planes are on their way with tens of millions more.

The government announced last week that it would subsidize the import of this basic food staple, which has been missing from most supermarkets for the last two weeks in the run-up to the week-long holiday that begins Wednesday night (8th).

The Agriculture Ministry said that it had requested that shipping companies change their routes for faster delivery and load double the number of eggs they would usually carry in their refrigerated containers.

The Finance Ministry also agreed to allocate a special budget to bring in eggs in an unprecedented and more expensive way – via cargo planes – due to the extreme need.  According to the Israel Financial Insider site, 20 million eggs are expected to arrive by air from several European countries in the coming days.  Besides Spain, other possible sources are the Netherlands, Ukraine and Portugal, said the report.

Egg consumption in Israel shoots up 20 percent for Passover, as families embark on a whirlwind of baking, frying and cooking the special foods which are traditionally eaten just this one time a year.  An egg is also one of the five items that must be included on the traditional Seder plate, a symbolic dish that is part of the festive meal marking the Jews exodus from Egyptian slavery over 3,000 years ago.

It is probably the second-most necessary item in the Passover pantry after unleavened bread, or matzoh.