‘Israel isn’t ready for second wave,’ says senior pandemic adviser

A senior health adviser said Israel lacks the tools to effectively combat a second outbreak.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

Even as Israel’s economy begins to restart, and corona guidelines are loosened, Prof. Eli Waxman, the chairman of the committee advising the government on the pandemic, has expressed concerns about the country’s preparedness for a second outbreak of the deadly disease.

Waxman says his reason for concern is primarily the lack of a mechanism for epidemological testing and for identifying contacts with carriers of the virus. “There are no critical tools that should allow us to safely manage the epidemic and prevent new outbreaks,” he told news outlet Kan Bet on Wednesday.

“Israel is not prepared for another outbreak of the virus,” he said.

Kan Bet reported on Tuesday that Waxman said in private conversation that while the government did consult his committee before moving ahead with its plan to relax the rules, the loosening is being done at a rate faster than recommended.

He told Kan Bet that his committee recommended a 48-hour turnaround for locating cornavirus carriers instead of the current seven-to-10 day span.

Health professionals around the world have warned about the possibility of a second outbreak. In late April, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Robert Redfield told The Washington Post, “There’s a possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through.”

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As rate of illness began to fall in Israel, calls for opening the economy began to increase. The unemployment rate has skyrocketed to over 26 percent and the country’s news shows carry stories daily of small business owners on the verge of collapse.

On Wednesday, beaches, museums and houses of worship opened to the public. Limits on public transportation were lifted at peak hours, at least for students going to and from school. Those hours are 7:00 to 8:30 a.m. and 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.

A plan to open restaurants has been created. They will open next week. Restaurants represent one of the most challenging problems. An Israeli company has even invented a mask that can be worn while eating in an attempt to cope with the issues involved.