28 June 2020

Closures Will NOT STOP Coronavirus in Israel

Closures will not stop coronavirus in Israel – health experts

“We have to take steps to lower the infection all over Israel or we are just going to have more areas like this,” said former Health Ministry director-general Prof. Gabi Barbash.

Designating cities as coronavirus “restricted zones” is an extreme measure with little effectiveness, senior health experts told The Jerusalem Post.

“Even a limited closure has a huge economic and mental price [on society],” explained Hadar Marom, deputy director of Samson Assuta Ashdod University Hospital. “We should not and do not want to go there.”

Yet, in the last week, as the number of coronavirus cases continues to climb, the government has started to designate many communities as red zones, restricting entry and exit from these areas in most cases.

Restricted zones won’t work this time around because the outbreak is much more widespread, former Health Ministry director-general Prof. Gabi Barbash told the Post. “We have to take steps to lower the infection all over Israel, or we are just going to have more areas like this,” he said.

On Wednesday, the Health Ministry shared a report that showed 107 cities had at least one resident diagnosed with coronavirus in the last three days. Marom called restrictive zones “extreme” and seconded Barbash, explaining that while it might help reduce virus in the area, it will not help slow down the spread of the disease across Israel.

Hadassah Medical Center’s director-general Zeev Rotstein warned further that these closures could actually increase the number of sick people in the country. “If you shut down a community, you could triple the number of sick patients there” by leaving them locked down in close and crowded quarters. “They infect each other.”

That is what happened during the first peak in many haredi (ultra-Orthodox) communities, when the government shut down the country and large families tried to quarantine in small apartments.

In April, the Health Ministry released a study that showed a high percentage of haredi coronavirus patients infected their family members and that many of the cases in the country’s centers of infection were concentrated within a few families.
This happened in Brooklyn to families I know 
and they were better off because of it. 
No one hospitalized, none died.
Bnei Brak, for example, had 1,881 cases of coronavirus on April 13 – the date the data for the report was collected. Some 1,039 of them (55%) were cases in which at least two people from the same family were infected. In total, 353 families had more than one infected family member.

Similarly, Jerusalem, which on April 13 had 2,105 cases of the novel virus, 993 or 47% were incidents of multiple cases in one family. In total, 358 families had multiple infections. In contrast, Tel Aviv had only 39 families infected; only 22% of sick people had infected another person in their nuclear family.

“There is currently no available coronavirus hotel for ultra-Orthodox patients,” MK Ya’akov Asher, a haredi rabbi, argued Wednesday at the Knesset in response to the closures placed the night before on Elad and some haredi neighborhoods in Tiberius. “As long as the patients do not go to hotels, we will not be able to stop the infection chain.”

He called on the government to test the community, relocate the sick and reopen the cities. Rotstein said that when a community is shut down, the Health Ministry should ensure that all of its residents are tested, and then it should create red and green zones within the community itself. Finally, he said that shutting down a community because of the number of people infected and not the number of people over a certain age “is mistaken and misleading the people.” Older people are at much higher risk for complications or even death from COVID-19.

An IDF Intelligence Corp. report published on Wednesday showed that 96% of Elad’s most recently diagnosed patients were under the age of 50.
Calling someone a patient when they are just experiencing a virus
 is misleading. If truly “patients” they should be labeled “hospitalized.” 
Otherwise this is mainly inciting fear and misleading the public.
Marom said that the country needs to look toward the future and “understand that we need to learn how to live alongside the virus for a long period of time.” She said the first factor is self-discipline, which means the public following the Health Ministry’s regulations: wearing masks, social distancing and maintaining good hygiene. She said keeping these regulations can reduce the rate of infection by as much as 85%.
What is the science behind this? 
The mask mfg states on the mask pkg that 
these masks do not protect from infection.
Then, she called on the government to immediately launch concurrent information and enforcement campaigns.

“Remember we started to use seat belts while driving our cars?” she asked. “It was not easy to implement and people did not understand that they needed to use them.” She said that the government ran a robust advertising campaign targeted toward the country’s different sectors and police would pull over cars and fine drivers who were not buckled up.

“Now we get inside our car and put on our seat belt,” she said. “It has to happen with masks, too.”
Coronavirus is “not a black and white situation – black: we have the virus and we lock down everything, or white: we don’t have the virus and we can open up and go back to routine.”

But Barash said he does not believe that the government will take the right steps to stop the coronavirus. He accused the government of lack of leadership and acting out of weakness. “The government is trying to appease a public that is tired of listening to stories about coronavirus,” he said. “The steps the government is taking will not stop the spread.”

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