Top Health Official: Israel Battling Second Coronavirus Wave

This picture taken on March 16, 2020 during a press presentation of the hospitalisation service for future patients with coronavirus at Samson Assuta Ashdod University Hospital in the southern Israeli city of Ashdod, shows the director of the epidemics service Dr Karina Glick checking a medical ventilator control panel at …
JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images

TEL AVIV – The Health Ministry’s head of health services on Sunday said Israel is embroiled in a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, amid a dramatic spike in new infections.

“We are experiencing the beginning of a second wave,” Sadetzky told Knesset lawmakers.

“We had a long period of more than two weeks with a lull in which there were less than 20 infections a day, and it started to go up and up, and now we are seeing close to 200 new sick people a day,” Sadetzky said.

“What characterizes the wave we are seeing now is that it’s all across the country, we don’t really know how to identify at-risk groups,” she said.

“We see it running all around and spreading over a very wide geographical area,” she added.

The uptick in cases began when the schools reopened last month after two months of closure. 200 schools have had confirmed cases, and tens of thousands of students and staff members have been in quarantine as a result.

“We compromised slightly on the education system because we very much wanted to believe that it would pass, even if we are cutting corners, but with this virus you can’t negotiate,” Sadetzky acknowledged.

“We are at a point when it is very difficult to go back on ourselves and there is a balance of interests that I respect,” she said.

Health Ministry director-general Moshe Bar Siman-Tov, who has been at the forefront of the fight against the outbreak, had a different message.

According to Bar Siman-Tov, whose last day as director-general was Sunday, the latest resurgence can pass without necessitating a lockdown.

“We can still be fairly optimistic and flatten the curve without a lockdown,” he told the KAN public broadcaster. “We need to keep the guidelines, especially regarding masks. There was an issue with keeping people aware that the coronavirus was not a one-off that came and went. We need to convince the public of how important it is. I think the public, and everybody, was quite tired.”

However, Bar Siman-Tov warned that there was a “strong chance that the virus would be around until 2022.”

“The disease is going to accompany us for a long time,” he said.

So far, 19,008 people have been diagnosed with coronavirus.

Netanyahu on Sunday warned that the rates of 200 new cases a day marked a “warning light.”

“I regret that as of the moment there is no improvement regarding infection,” he said.

“I reiterate and request the public to follow the Health Ministry rules – wear masks, maintain distance and wash hands.”

Last week, he warned that he was applying the “emergency brakes” on easing coronavirus restrictions.

The Shin Bet security agency halted tracking the movements of coronavirus patients after its mandate expired in the wake of a government decision to freeze the use of emergency powers.

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