Elderly to be evacuated en masse from ultra-Orthodox Israeli town hit by coronavirus

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - The Israeli military will evacuate elderly residents en masse from an ultra-Orthodox Jewish town with a disproportionately large outbreak of coronavirus, the government said on Thursday.

Some 4,500 people aged 80 and above would be taken out of Bnai Brak, near Tel Aviv, and placed in isolation in hostels requisitioned by the military.

The government statement gave no date for when the 75 million shekel ($20 million) plan would take effect.

Medical experts estimate that as many as 38% of Bnai Brak’s 200,000 residents are infected with coronavirus and that the town could soon account for as many as 30% of cases nationwide.

This is due to Bnai Brak’s population density, which on Israeli officials say is almost 100 times higher than the national average. Many residents are poor and some have heeded rabbis who, distrusting the state, spurned anti-virus measures.

The elderly are especially prone to COVID-19, the potentially fatal disease caused by the coronavirus.

Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Nick Macfie