Israel’s 3rd lockdown not really working as infection rates rise

Health officials say closure is ineffective, morbidity rising. Edelstein admits political considerations overruled health decisions.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein admitted Wednesday that the national lockdown imposed on the weekend is not really working because the decision makers put political considerations ahead of the nation’s health.

“We are not in a lockdown. We are with restrictions,” Edelstein said in an interview with Channel 12 News. “Yes, we wanted a relatively short, full, strong lockdown, precisely because we thought about limiting the economic damage.”

“After the government meeting and principally because it passed through Knesset committees we are in a totally different situation,” Edelstein said, “the only thing that can save us is the personal responsibility of every one of us, apropo New Year’s eve.”

Edelstein called on Israelis to avoid New Year’s parties and stay home, and police said 2,000 additional officers would be out New Year’s eve to enforce coronavirus restrictions. Police said they will act with a “heavy hand” against anybody who violates coronavirus rules that bans visits to other people’s homes and limits Israelis to remain within one kilometer of their residence.

With infection rates continuing to rise, Edelstein pointed his finger at his fellow legislators who he said “accepted all kinds of populist decisions by people who for them politics is above health.”

The cabinet decision was to maintain the lockdown until daily infections dropped to below 1,000 a day, but both the Health Ministry and the government admit that at the current rate, with schools open and a working economy, they anticipate daily infections will spike to 8,000 per day and the plan for a two-week closure would need to be extended by several weeks, Channel 12 reported.

Edelstein said he doesn’t expect an easing of pandemic restrictions and a return to “normal” until millions of Israelis get their second dose of vaccine.

“I think that after two or three months of the vaccination operation we will see millions of Israelis already after their second vaccination with a green passport in their hand and then we will be able to me much more liberal with our policy,” Edelstein said. “I would say March – April.”

Only a few days into what was supposed to be a national lockdown that began on Sunday, health officials noted that there is no significant reduction in traffic or change in habits and the data from field reflects that the restrictions are so far ineffective in lowering morbidity numbers.

Statistics released Thursday morning showed 5,618 more Israelis were diagnosed as infected in the past day with the number of active cases in the country hitting 42,487 – a 30% increase in one week. Of the 1,076 Israelis hospitalized with coronavirus 661 are listed in serious or critical condition.