תמונה של משה בר סימן טוב
Moshe Bar-Siman-Tov
Photo: Uriel Cohen
Testing for coronavirus in Beit Shemesh

The coronavirus is here to stay

Opinion: The government must stop lifting restrictions while the pandemic is surging and the numbers of daily new infections are so high that any other country would be tightening health regulations and not reducing them

Moshe Bar-Siman-Tov |
Published: 02.13.21 , 23:30
Israel is emerging from its six-week coronavirus lockdown with no clear exit strategy in place.
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  • With an infection rate still showing many thousands of new cases a day, most countries would be imposing new restrictions and not lifting them.
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    בדיקות קורונה ב בית שמש
    בדיקות קורונה ב בית שמש
    Testing for coronavirus in Beit Shemesh
    (Photo: EPA)
    We are seeing a more dangerous manifestation of the coronavirus than before. Yet we are having difficulty internalizing that life as we've known it is beyond our reach, if only temporarily.
    We can continue to hope that our pre-pandemic routine will return but must still prepare for life alongside the virus for many years to come.
    Hopefully, Israel's far-reaching vaccination drive will help defeat COVID-19. But in a more likely scenario, the disease will change form and will persist.
    It is in a virus' nature to find vulnerabilities and transform into a more infectious - and perhaps more deadly - form.
    Even so, the actions we are taking to defeat the pandemic have remained unchanged, failing to meet the new challenges the coronavirus presents.
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    People queue in front of a bakery in Tel Aviv on Sunday following the lifting of a nationwide lockdown
    People queue in front of a bakery in Tel Aviv on Sunday following the lifting of a nationwide lockdown
    People queue in front of a bakery in Tel Aviv following the lifting of the third nationwide lockdown
    (Photo: AFP)
    Lifting restrictions now means we might face longer lockdowns in the future as hospitals struggle to provide care to their growing number of patients who are suffering from more severe symptoms.
    So what steps should the state take?
    The government should continue its vaccination efforts and increase its reach into sectors of the population that have thus far shown a reluctance to get inoculated.
    The Education Ministry should finally, after a year of challenges, invest the funds needed to allow studies to take place in small groups and under safer conditions.
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    בי"ס גבריאלי הכרמל
    בי"ס גבריאלי הכרמל
    Elementary school children in Tel Aviv return to class after the lockdown restrictions were lifted on Thursday
    (Photo: Moti Kimchi)
    There should be zero tolerance of violation of health directives with mass gatherings. There is an infectious and potentially deadly disease rampaging and there must be one law for everyone, with no exceptions.
    The government should forget about achieving herd immunity. That is nothing but a farfetched plan that would only lead to more deaths.
    Those making the decisions have to accept that the pandemic refuses to behave according to projections and we would all benefit from some humility on their part.
    COVID-19 is here for the foreseeable future; that much is clear.
    The government has to find a way to allow us to lead a semi-normal existence that does not involve sliding back into lockdown every few months.
    Our divided government have to find a common voice. It must rely on the experts just as would when facing an enemy on the battlefield.
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    מחלקת הקורונה בבית החולים צפת
    מחלקת הקורונה בבית החולים צפת
    The coronavirus ward at the Ziv Medical Center in Safed
    (Photo: Aviahu Shapira)
    Most importantly, the unavoidable fact is that many thousands more will fall sick and require specialized hospital care means that the government must stop lifting restrictions.
    The leaders have to set aside political calculations and make the right call before it is too late.
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