Israeli health official warns against complacency even as serious cases decline

Corona infections rise slightly, but numbers of those very sick and hospitalized continue dropping. 

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

The number of Israelis hospitalized with coronavirus dropped Thursday, with a continued decline in the number of those patients in serious condition and on ventilators, but a senior health official warned the public not to be complacent.

Ministry of Health figures showed 455 Israelis are currently hospitalized with the coronavirus. Of those, 136 are in serious condition and 107 are on ventilators – a drop of 8.1 percent and 3.6 percent respectively over the last 24 hours.

In the same time period, another 266 people tested positive, bringing the total number of confirmed infections to 15,592.

Among those newly hospitalized was an 86-year-old man who had been discharged last week from hospital after recovering from the coronavirus and testing negative, but was readmitted Wednesday with symptoms and found to be infected.

Despite the downward trend in serious cases, a senior health ministry official warned Israelis not to be complacent.

“Obviously, we went through the first wave and we went through it well because we made early and difficult steps,”said Prof. Sigal Sadetzky, head of public health, who cautioned that social distancing and other restrictions had to remain in place.

“You can’t end this war as long as the virus doesn’t go away. I don’t know what the next wave will be and whether it will be bigger or smaller,”Sadetzky said in a Kan radio interview.

Next week Israelis will mark the annual remembrance and independence days under a curfew announced by the government to prevent the normal crowding at military cemeteries, when Israelis mourn those lost to conflict but celebrate their independence the very next day.

Many families of those who had fallen to war or terror attacks were outraged over the decision, and defense officials backed off slightly to say police would not physically stop mourners seeking to pray at gravesides.

Sadetzky admitted the decision to curtail Memorial Day services hurt.

“This is one of the most painful questions we have been asked … there are no magic solutions. We considered all the alternatives,” Sadetzky said.

Following the government decision Wednesday to impose a curfew over both days of mourning and celebration, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the nation there was no choice but to impose the total closure to keep the virus from spreading.

“This year we will have to do it differently. We cannot afford the same overcrowding at the burial sites that would simply endanger everyone who is there,” Netanyahu tweeted.

“We all find different ways to be united with memory of our loved ones,” said Netanyahu, whose brother Yonatan was killed in action during the famous 1976 Operation Entebbe to rescue Israeli hostages who had been hijacked by pro-Palestinian terrorists.