Second coronavirus wave: Government can’t stop it

Expert says “Health Ministry is not doing what it needs to do” and senior ministry official admits second wave of coronavirus infections is here.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

A member of the committee that advised Israel’s National Security Council during the first wave of the coronavirus says the government appears to be incapable of stopping a second wave of infections, the Jerusalem Post reported Wednesday.

“There are no miracles here … There is a reasonable chance we’ll have to reinstate the closures because the Health Ministry is not doing what it needs to do,” Prof. Eli Waxman of the Weizmann Institute of Science, told the Post.

His comments came as a senior health ministry official said the reopening of Israel’s economy was causing a resurgence of infections.

“We see a direct correlation between the opening of the economy and the rise in morbidity,” said Prof. Sigal Sadetsky. “There are significant increases in the number of cases found throughout the country, with an emphasis on children.”

Sadetsky said coronavirus morbidity was up in 57 localities and with the increased spread around the country she considers the new outbreaks to be a “second wave.”

With the Health Ministry reporting 258 new infections in the past 24 hour period, Waxman said the government is unable to stop the new spike in coronavirus cases.

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The current level of virus testing in Israel shows an infection rate of between 1.8 and 2 percent, with health experts saying a sustained rate above 1 percent could eventually overwhelm the health system.

On Monday 11 workers at Tel Aviv’s Sourasky Medical Center tested positive and 690 medical staff around the country are currently in quarantine. Some two dozen Sourasky staff members attended a goodbye party without masks and shortly afterwards a doctor who was at the party tested positive, forcing everybody who was at the party into quarantine, Ynet reported.

On Wednesday the IDF announced that several senior generals including the head of its southern command, Maj. Gen. Herzi Levi, were working from isolation after a defense official they met with tested positive for the virus.

“The commanders feel good, without symptoms,” the army said.

Waxman said that while the Health Ministry needs to quickly implement contact tracing in order to stop the spread, it isn’t going to do so, and the country still lacks a real-time database to track infections.

“The Health Ministry resists any of these changes, so what we are left with is what we had in March,” Waxman said.

“People don’t fear it is going to happen to them,” Cyrille Cohen, the head of Bar-Ilan University’s immunotherapy lab, told the Post. “People are not aware of the danger, or maybe they are fed up with all these rules and the fact that we were isolated and could not celebrate Passover or Independence Day.”

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“I don’t want to sound too dramatic, but we already see a rise in critical patients,” Cohen said.