Israel goes from hero to goat in corona fight: Citizens might have only themselves to blame

“We’re talking about a very worrying phenomenon, for which there is no solution,” senior officials said. 

By David Isaac, World Israel News

Yom Kippur, Israel’s Day of Atonement, begins on Sunday at sundown. It’s when Jews ask forgiveness for their sins over the last year. Israelis might want to add a mea culpa for their behavior during the corona pandemic as well.

“The new national sport is finding a way to get around the regulations,” Israel Hayom reported on Wednesday, in a report describing the flouting of pandemic rules by Israelis. It gave anecdotal evidence from the Arab sector, restaurateurs and a religious school.

On Tuesday, the paper published another report, even amusing, about the imaginative excuses citizens came up with when stopped by police officers during the curfew over the Jewish New Year’s holiday weekend.

More serious is the paper’s Thursday report on statistics gathered from the IDF’s corona headquarters that found 41% of Israelis who were supposed to be in self-isolation violated their quarantine.

The report covering Sept. 20 found that of 340,000 Israelis who were supposed to be in quarantine, 140,000 obeyed it in a partial manner or not at all.

The paper reports that senior officials say that similar findings for other days paint a “very worrying” picture. “We’re talking about a very worrying phenomenon, for which there is no solution,” they said.

Lack of enforcement is contributing to the problem. The police only succeed in reaching half of 1% of those who are in quarantine on any given day.

While these statistics may not be quite as serious on the face of it, given that most of those in quarantine turn out not to be sick – less than 4.5% according to a mid-September Ministry of Health report – more disturbing is the behavior of those who are confirmed carriers.

They are giving incorrect or incomplete information to the authorities.

As Israel Hayom’s report notes, “the epidemiological investigations are the decisive factor in cutting the chain of infection.” The investigations are meant to identify whom the carrier has been in contact with so they can be isolated as well. The success of the effort depends on accurate information from the participants.

One motive behind the partial or incorrect reports is that the patients don’t want to put their family members into quarantine.

Worldwide research over recent months shows that there are 18-40 contacts for each corona patient. Israel’s number should be similar. Only they’re not. The majority, 43.2%, said they were in contact with one to four people, 13.4% said 10 people or more, and 21% said they weren’t in touch with anyone.

Those who deal in epidemiology say the numbers don’t add up, and that in the majority of the cases, the information is partial or purposefully misleading, Israel Hayom reports.

The news doesn’t bode well for Israeli efforts to curb the disease. Confirmed daily cases are approaching the 7,000 mark.