Grotto responds to Intel warning: Covid-19 surge must be fought

“You can call it a second wave or not, but coronavirus infection is surging at the rate of 300 a day and must be curbed,” said Prof. Itamar Grotto, Health Ministry Ass Dir Gen., on Sunday, June 21, in response to the Intelligence Directorate’s forecast of a  thousand new cases a day in July and hundreds of dead. While urging more restrictions, he insisted: “We can’t turn the situation back and we must keep the economy open.” The professor went on to say. “We must all learn to live in the shadow of coronavirus while fighting it as best we can with epidemiological testing and research, pinning down sources of infection and wearing face masks.
Against wide criticism of its findings as wanting in scientific data,  the Intelligence Directorate, issued a follow-up report on Sunday, warning that congregation in closed spaces posed the greatest danger of infection. The public must be made aware of the danger, said the second report. Events must be confined to open areas, and the wearing of masks strictly enforced. Also recommended were barriers for people sharing closed premises.

On Saturday night, the National Coronavirus Data Center of the Intelligence Directorate warned that the rising level of coronavirus infection if sustained would lead Israel to a thousand new cases a day within a month and many hundreds of deaths – unless new restrictions were imposed.

The Center raised the alarm after confirming that Israel is undergoing its second wave of the disease with different but equally serious characteristics. The new spike in infection calls for thinking about preparing for a second lockdown despite the harm to the economy. The Center advises that this course can be prevented by means of certain urgent steps. They include reconsideration of the most recent decisions for reopening the economy; closer enforcement of health rules, more information for the public; reinstating quarantine centers at hotels; and boosting epidemiological testing and research for cutting short the chains of infection.

The report takes full account of the economic price of tightened restrictions but asserts that if the authorities move fast and decisively, the economic and social fallout can be comparatively moderate. Last Tuesday, after the center urged a halt on further relaxations, the ministers went ahead nonetheless and approved the reopening of theatres and places of entertainment.

Another 304 cases were reported between Friday and Saturday, raising the total to 20,500 including 4,300 active cases. They include 40 in serious condition of whom 28 are on respirators.

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