Israel’s Public Health Head Quits, Warns Country ‘Lost Compass’ in Coronavirus Fight

A man wearing a protective mask amid the Covid-19 pandemic stands in a shop with a sign on the window reading in Hebrew: please wear a mask in the centre of Jerusalem on July 7, 2020. - As of today, Israel had recorded more than 31,000 coronavirus cases, including 338 …
MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP via Getty

TEL AVIV — Israel’s public health director quit on Tuesday amid an unprecedented surge in new infections, blasting the Health Ministry’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic which she said involved frivolous decision making motivated by self-serving interests.

In a lengthy post to her Facebook page, Siegal Sadetzki wrote she had notified ministry director-general Chezy Levy of her decision to leave.

“Unfortunately, for several weeks, the compass for alleviating the epidemic has lost its direction,” Sadetzki, an epidemiologist, wrote. “Israel is heading to a dangerous place.”

She warned the coming months would be “difficult and even tragic.”

The news comes a day after the government ordered the closure of nightclubs, bars, gyms and event halls as numbers soared past 1,000 new cases per day.

In May, following a nationwide near-lockdown, virus cases dwindled to as low as 18.

Israelis wearing protective masks amid the Covid-19 pandemic walk in the centre of Jerusalem on July 7, 2020. – As of today, Israel had recorded more than 31,000 coronavirus cases, including 338 deaths. In recent weeks, the country of about nine million people has regularly registered between 500 to 1,000 new cases each day. (MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP via Getty Images)

But a sharp upwards trend kicked off with the reopening of the economy and schools two months ago. According to Health Ministry predictions, the number of patients on ventilators will jump from 32 to 2,000.

“The achievements in dealing with the first wave (of cases) were cancelled out by the wide-sweeping and rapid opening of the economy,” she said.

“Too much time is invested in debates, discussions, consultations and forums,” Sadetzki wrote, but despite that, “the window of opportunity is running out.”

“I can no longer help [Israel] to effectively cope with the spread of the virus,” she wrote.

She recommended a raft of restrictions, including targeted testing and greater social distancing achieved by creating a capsule model in work places and schools.

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