כיכר דיזנגוף
A woman with a child in Tel Aviv
Photo: Motti Kimchi
Health Ministry’s Deputy Director General Prof. Itamar Grotto

Health Ministry No.2: Current wave of Israel's virus outbreak over

Prof. Itamar Grotto clarifies that although numbers show positive trajectory, reopening of the economy and education system too soon might lead to another mass COVID-19 outbreak; adds public must refrain from celebrating upcoming holidays

Alexandra Lukash, Itamar Eichner |
Updated: 04.22.20 , 16:52
Health Ministry’s Deputy Director General Prof. Itamar Grotto said Wednesday that the current wave of the coronavirus outbreak in Israel has reached its peak and has begun to subside.
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  • “We can say we have stopped the current wave of the outbreak," said the Health Ministry’s No. 2 in an interview with Ynet.
    Health Ministry’s Deputy Director General Prof. Itamar Grotto Health Ministry’s Deputy Director General Prof. Itamar Grotto
    Health Ministry’s Deputy Director General Prof. Itamar Grotto
    (Photo: Asaf Magal )
    He warned, however, that a new wave of COVID-19 might be around the corner if the economy and the education system is reopened too soon. "Even 200 new patients a day could be the spark of a new epidemic."
    "It [the new wave]will be much harder to contain in contrast to two months ago, where most infected came from abroad and we could quarantine them."
    כיכר דיזנגוףכיכר דיזנגוף
    Men relaxing on benches at the Dizzengoff circle in Tel Aviv in Tel Aviv
    (Photo: Motti Kimchi)
    Prof. Grotto also addressed the sharp rise in infections over the past 24 hours released on Wednesday morning. "It's not correct to only look at the daily rise, but we are aware and a bit troubled by it," he said.
    "We are developing new technics estimate the number of patients we're able to treat at a given moment, so we can decide if we can move forward with the easing of restrictions or if we have to roll them back."
    משפחות שכולות בקבריםמשפחות שכולות בקברים
    Israel's military cemetery
    (Photo: Motti Kimchi )
    When asked about the likely lockdown on Israel's independence and memorial days, Prof. Grotto said that "we must refrain from public celebrations completely."
    "Families will still be allowed to arrive at the cemeteries a day before Memorial Day," he said, referring to the expected shuttering of all military cemeteries on Memorial Day. "We must also take into account that the majority of those who will visit are in risk groups due to their age and we must make sure there will be no risk involved."
    "When it comes to Ramadan, we will mainly focus on enforcement [of the directives] and on making sure shops are closed at night. We want people to pray at home and not in mosques. I expect that the Arab population will adhere to the new restrictions," he said.
    הסגר בדיר אל אסד בעקבות נגיף הקורונההסגר בדיר אל אסד בעקבות נגיף הקורונה
    Police checkpoint outside the northern Arab village of Deir al-Asad
    (Photo: Israel Police)
    The deputy director general also said the Health Ministry is keeping a close eye on countries like Denmark, which decided to gradually reopen its education system.
    "We have several plans for reopening the education system," said Grotto. “If we reopen the education system, however, it is clear to us that there will be more patients. The state has to decide how much risk it is willing to take."
    Commenting on Singapore, which has a sharp rise of patients after proclaiming that they had successfully contained the virus, Prof. Grotto said he hoped that Israel will not be in a similar situation in the future.
    "We are always trying to walk the tight rope between opening up the economy and infection rate, therefore we must take do everything slowly and gradually," Grotto said.

    First published: 15:36 , 04.22.20
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