Netanyahu said the situation was better in Israel than other countries thanks to early steps and the country’s discipline.
By World Israel News Staff
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Wednesday at the Health Ministry in Jerusalem for a discussion with Health Minister Yaakov Litzman on continued preparations to deal with the coronavirus.
At a press conference following the meeting, Netanyahu said, “Together with the Health Minister and the professional team, I have just completed another discussion on our handling of the corona crisis.
“I say ‘crisis’ but it must be understood that we are in the midst of a global pandemic. They do not call it this but this is the truth and it needs to be said. It could be that it is among the most dangerous of such pandemics in the past 100 years,” he noted.
“But Israel is in the best situation of all other countries, together with another two or three Western countries.
“We are in a better situation because at the outset I ordered a policy of over-preparation and not under-preparation,” he said.
“We were compelled to take harsh – even very harsh – measures in order to slow the pace of the spread of the disease in Israel, and indeed this has happened.
“We also undertook a policy of extensive quarantine and extensive checks, which many countries have not done. We were also compelled to take steps regarding flights and those returning from abroad,” Netanyahu said.
Israel did move more swiftly than other countries in implementing tough guidelines on those returning first from the Far East and then certain European countries in order to contain the outbreak.
Israel on Wednesday expanded the list of European countries to Switzerland, Austria, Spain, France and Germany. Those returning from these countries must go into home isolation for two weeks, the incubation period of the disease.
The effort has succeeded so far with only 15 Israelis infected, four of them from visiting a toy store where an Israeli returned from Italy with the virus was employed.
Netanyahu pointed to the example of Italy as a reminder of what can happen even in advanced countries.
“I must say that there is a 4-5% mortality rate there, and the incidence of severe cases is about 10%. This is Italy, an advanced western country,” he said.
‘In complete control’
“I would like to make it clear that we are in complete control of the event especially due to the great caution we are using and the steps that will be detailed today, and also due to you, the citizens of Israel.
“All in all, the citizens of Israel are very disciplined and are following to our instructions. You also see that we took exceptional measures, such as separate polling places, to isolate the virus from the general population, to the best of our ability.”
Over 4,000 Israelis of some 6,000 total in quarantine took advantage of the special voting booths.
“We will require yet more from you,” the prime minister said.
Netanyahu also advised that great caution be taken regarding personal hygiene going so far as to recommend people refrain from shaking hands.
It’s “something that is contrary to our character, contrary to human nature and contrary to our nature as a society and a nation – to refrain from shaking hands,” he said.
“I take it upon myself to be the first to tell you to simply refrain from shaking hands, as I am doing. There is no choice. You can adopt the Indian practice; you can say ‘Namaste’, or you can say ‘Shalom’. But find the way, any way, to avoid shaking hands and other things that will be asked of you here at the Health Ministry,” he said.
Present at meeting was the head of the National Security Council, the acting director general of the Prime Minister’s Office, the director general of the Health Ministry, the director general of the Population and Migration Authority, the director general of Magen David Adom and other senior officials.