Israeli Health Minister: 2nd wave halted, country must now pull together

Health Minister says second wave appears to be under control, but numbers are still too high.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said Sunday that Israel has stopped the increase in the second wave of coronavirus infections, stressing that the country must pull together to bring the numbers down.

“Over the past days it was already obvious that we were able to stop the rise in the epidemic,” Edelstein said at a press conference with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Prof. Ronni Gamzu, the coronavirus project overseer.

“We have proven … that when there is good teamwork and help from many others, it is possible to achieve results in the field,” Edelstein said, but warned, “It’s good, but it is obviously not enough. The numbers are still high and of concern.”

The health minister called on the public to “make the effort together” to cut the chains of infection, noting that the ministry had stockpiled 3 million flu shots for the coming season, reminding the public that the same coronavirus prevention measures of facemasks and distancing also reduce the chance of catching the flu.

Netanyahu said the country appeared to be going in the right direction after two months of a constant increase in the infection rate. The prime minister said the government was buying “options for vaccines.”

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“I cannot tell you that a vaccine will be found, but the signs at the moment seem encouraging; it is too early to tell. But if there will be vaccines, I want the State of Israel to have access to these vaccines,” Netanyahu said. “First of all for the medical teams and populations at risk and afterwards – of course – for the rest of the population.”

For his part, Prof. Gamzu, a respected health professional hired to make order of the government’s response to the pandemic, reminded the public that despite pressure to ease up on restrictions as infection rates lowered, he was looking at stabilizing the situation in a serious way. “We will not be reckless in removing the restrictions,” he said.

In the wake of the government flip-flop last month when it reversed a decision to close restaurants, Gamzu said those in charge “understand the economic hardship and difficulty, and know it can not last long.” He said his goal is to create proper enforcement with clear rules.

According to data released Monday morning by the Ministry of Health, 713 new corona patients were diagnosed since Sunday and the number of active cases dropped from 26,386 to 25,167.

There are 783 people hospitalized with the coronavirus of whom 334 are listed in serious condition, with 100 of them on respirators. The number of infected Israelis in serious condition appears to have peaked, and health officials are hoping the numbers will start dropping.

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Overnight three more people succumbed to the plague, bringing the death toll to 541.