Israeli Health Minister says lockdown won’t work as daily cases soar past 5,000

“Anyone who thinks that in two or three weeks the numbers will go down is mistaken,” he told Ynet on Wednesday.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

The news just goes from bad to worse where Israel and coronavirus are concerned.

As the country recorded a new daily record of 5,523 corona cases in the last 24 hours, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said that the three-week lockdown due to start Friday won’t be enough.

“Anyone who thinks that in two or three weeks the numbers will go down is mistaken,” he told Ynet on Wednesday.

“In the current state of quarantine, anyone who thinks that within two or three weeks the numbers will drop to those 500 or 1,000 diagnosed a day does not know what he is talking about. Not only will we not go to easing, but we will need to tighten,” Edelstein said.

“My impression is that we live with corona and the country doesn’t think there is a virus raging, so I am worried about that,” the health minister added.

He put the onus of success on the Israeli public. Israelis, particularly independent businessowners, have been balking, saying they plan to open anyway regardless of the lockdown because they can’t survive another curfew.

“If everyone is looking for a loophole then one can find lots of loopholes. If everyone understands that they have to stay at home with the nuclear family, and not leave except for essential needs such as work and the supply of medicine and food – then we will be in the low numbers,” Edelstein said.

Israel will be the first country to go to a lockdown twice.

Edelstein was joined in his pessimism by Deputy Health Minister Yoav Kish. Kish told Kan public broadcasting on Wednesday that the coming lockdown won’t lead to a meaningful drop in coronavirus cases.

“It’s not a closure as we know it,” Kisch said. “I do not think it’s possible to call this a lockdown. We’re talking here about reducing all activities of recreation, leisure, commerce – but don’t harm work beyond that.

“I think once they made that decision it had many implications. I strongly agree with what has been said, that we cannot expect dramatic declines in morbidity rates. What it will do is curb the disease and maybe bring it down a bit,” Kish said.

There are 42,862 active cases in Israel. The current ‘doubling rate’ is 10 days.

A report from the IDF’s intelligence branch, which has been helping monitor the virus, said, “In the last two weeks, there has been a dramatic increase in the national morbidity both in the general population and in the ultra-Orthodox and Arab society.”

Schools will close for the lockdown tomorrow and not on Friday as previously planned in light of the worsening situation.