Israel’s corona czar may be just what the doctor ordered

He spoke of a “new contract” between the government and the public in combating the deadly virus.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

Prof. Ronni Gamzu wasn’t the first choice to fill the shoes of “corona czar,” but he may turn out to be the best choice.

Gamzu came off as confident, calm and poised at his Tuesday press conference, his first since taking the position of corona czar, which will be responsible for orchestrating the government’s response to the pandemic.

Gamzu revealed his plan on Tuesday, dubbed “Shield of Israel.” It includes three parts: 1) a “new contract” with the public 2) the IDF to be given the job of testing and tracking the disease, and 3) more unified coordination and presentation of data.

The “new contract” aspect of the plan is meant to regain the trust of the Israeli public. The government’s handling of the second corona wave has been panned as peripatetic, directionless and ineffective. The public has lost confidence in its elected leaders’ ability to handle the crisis, as evidenced by growing street protests and public opinion polls.

“We have seen a decline in confidence in recent days, and as such, the virus has spread. The new contract: The government does everything logically, quickly and confidently; the citizens obey and cooperate,” the corona czar said.

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Gamzu admitted that the government’s response had fallen short. He said the Health Ministry had failed to carry out the “test, trace, isolate” method that is considered vital to controlling the spread of the disease.

He said that the IDF will take over the job. “The IDF’s involvement is very important because it is a system that can work quickly,” he said.

The change echoes one that former Defense Minister Naftali Bennett of the Yemina party has been demanding for months. Bennett tweeted his approval of the plan, saying, “I congratulate Professor Ronni Gamzo for presenting his correct plan for eradicating corona. I will help him in any way.”

Gamzu said that going forward, any new curfews or restrictions would be done logically and not in the haphazard fashion as it has been heretofore.

“We are in the midst of a plague that is still progressing, and at this point in time we need to take rapid steps,” Gamzu said, warning of the possibility that “hospitals will reach a breaking point.”

It was reported on Wednesday that four hospitals in Israel are already filled to capacity.

Gamzu set the goal of a contact rate of less than one person infecting another. “This is the only way we will start eradicating the pandemic with less burden on the hospitals,” he said.

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who attended the presser, said “I expect all cabinet ministers to back this plan. I expect the citizens of Israel, all of them, without exception, to cooperate with it. Together we will defeat the coronavirus.”