Health Ministry director general: We fear the crisis will go into 2021

He said next winter will also see a breakout of the coronavirus.

By Josh Plank, World Israel News

“We are worried that we are facing a long event that will last into 2021,” Moshe Bar Siman Tov told Israel’s public broadcaster on Wednesday. The director general of the Health Ministry said he based that projection on the most severe model.

He said next winter will also see a breakout of the coronavirus, according to that model.

“I don’t want to scare the public, I want to explain to the public why we are doing it [restrictions]. China, Italy, South Korea and other countries are just at the beginning of the process as far as they are concerned and it looks like we’re also at the beginning of the process,” he said.

Separately, Prof. Itamar Grotto, deputy director general of the Ministry of Health, said the stringent restrictions aimed at stopping the spread of the coronavirus could last for weeks or even months.

“It may be that the weather will have some kind of impact that we do not know, or that there could be some extraordinary drop [in the number of infected], or there be some amazing drug that can treat patients,” Grotto told Ynet on Wednesday.

But he added, “We have to be realistic, take a look at the situation and say, okay this is going to be a few weeks to months.”

Grotto was hopeful that the Health Ministry’s tight restrictions will control the spread of the virus.

“We definitely think it’s still feasible to provide at least some relief [in the number of cases]. I’m not saying we can avoid it altogether and reach zero cases, but we can certainly get to a more moderate scenario. It’s time to put our foot on the gas the hardest,” he said.

The Health Ministry announced this morning that the number of Israelis diagnosed with coronavirus has risen to 529.

This is up from 427 on Wednesday morning, keeping with Grotto’s prediction on Monday that there would be 100 new cases a day.

“This indicates a rise in the number of patients and it indicates a significant progression of the disease in Israel,” Grotto said. “This means we have to be sure to take these steps so that it doesn’t reach a scale that the Health Ministry cannot handle.”

Grotto indicated on Monday that “the government is considering a general closure on all citizens, and if that happens it would mean all age groups will be asked to stay home until further notice.”

The Health Ministry announced new restrictions on Tuesday, instructing people not to go outside unless absolutely necessary, but stopping short of a mandatory lockdown.

Grotto told Army Radio this morning, “We would have liked to have a full lockdown, but if the pubic listens to orders there will be less need for it.”

Bar Siman Tov suggested such a lockdown wouldn’t be necessary. “We have seen a change in the last day in public behavior,” he said.