A heavy sandstorm hit Israel early this morning, blowing in from Syria and Jordan in the northwest. Air pollution levels are very high in northern Israel, particularly in the Jezreel Valley, the Jordan Valley and the Samaria region.

Magen David Adom made preparations this morning to be ready to assist anybody who will need medical attention. “Due to the intense heat that remains throughout the country, we are going through special assessments to provide medical care to victims that may suffer from the heat as well as from haze and dust that hit the country overnight,” said Magen David Adom Chairman Eli Bin. “I call on everyone to be attentive to the recommendations from Magen David Adom in order to prevent casualties.

MDA recommended that vulnerable people such as the elderly, pregnant women and people with heart and lung diseases (asthma, COPD or respiratory illness) stay inside with the windows closed. In addition, MDA suggested to the public at large to avoid partaking in outdoor activities.

Yoni Yagodovsky, Director of the International Department for Magen David Adom told Tazpit News Agency that there has been an increase in the regular rate of medical assistance calls received by Magen David Adom.

“There has been a significant increase of about 20-30% in the number of calls for assistance from people with breathing difficulties,” said Yagodovsky.

In particular, there has been a large number of elderly people suffering from asthma and respiratory disorders, who have been seeking medical assistance from Magen David Adom. “The density of the dust in the air which is really significant today has caused the elderly people to need more active medical assistance in order to breathe better,” explained Yagodovsky. The elderly have either been receiving medical attention at local clinics or by MDA teams in ambulances.

Magen David Adom has also received calls requesting medical attention for children experiencing asthma attacks. “There has been an increase of 30-40% in asthma attacks for children in kindergarten and elementary school,” Yagodovsky told Tazpit News Agency. Yagodovsky added that MDA has also been providing medical care to those with chronic diseases who have been experiencing chest pains and breathing problems.

The dust storm has also led to an increase in the number of car accidents resulting from low visibility due to the high concentration of dust in the air. “The vision is extremely bad in the mountains, but near the (Mediterranean) Sea it is better,” said Yagodovsky. “MDA is asking that people drive slowly and to use headlights.”

By Jonathan Benedek
Tazpit News Agency

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