Coronavirus czar Prof. Ronni Gamzu warned Wednesday that the low number of people getting tested for the disease is concealing Israel's actual infection rate.
"Eight hundred verified new cases per day is not the true infection rate in Israel," Gamzu said at a briefing on the pandemic.
"The actual amount is several thousand [per day]. There is a hidden morbidity in Israel, similar to what we saw here about a month and a half ago.”
The professor was referring to Israel's high infection rate that prompted the country to go into a second, month-long lockdown in mid-September.
Gamzu, who has begun working alongside his replacement Nachman Ash ahead of his departure next month, said his task force has an approximate percentage of daily infections due to surveys of preschool teachers who returned to work 10 days ago, and yeshiva students, many of whom attend seminaries that are open in contravention of state health regulations.
“The IDF's Alon [coronavirus] task force is conducting epidemiological investigations,” said Gamzu. “Each investigation reveals four or more contacts [per infected case], of which about 6-8% also test positive for the virus.”
Gamzu also urged the Arab community to get tested for coronavirus, as the number of tests in the sector plummeted and infection rate rose.
"We have noticed that there is significant decrease in the number of tests conducted [in the Arab community],' said Gamzu. "This drastic decrease has led to an increase in the rate of positive tests."
Gamzu warned that several Arab communities are seeing high enough morbidity levels to be defined as “orange” by Israel's traffic light model that color codes areas according to morbidity levels, with red for the areas with highest infection rates and green for the lowest.
“Certain localities in Arab society are orange and we are still debating the best course of action in those areas,” said Gamzu.
"We may ask for certain restrictions to be imposed there. I am currently in the process of examining what is being done in the education system in these locations."