Imposing another nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus ahead of the Jewish High Holidays would be Israeli government's "admission of failure," said a senior health official said Thursday.
Outgoing World Medical Association chair Prof. Leonid Eidelman's statements came as Israel's coronavirus cabinet was set to meet on Thursday afternoon to discuss ways to reduce the COVID-19 infection rate in the country, which apparently includes either partial or full lockdown for the holidays of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot.
"There were, are and always will be waves of infections, be it Germany, Spain, Italy or Germany, what we need to do is react as quickly as possible and act accordingly," Eidelman told Ynet. "A full lockdown is an admission of failure."
Eidelman also said the time Israel had between the first and the second wave was not fully utilized in order for a lockdown to be effective.
"How can you not lockdown an area where every third or fourth person tests positive for the virus? How do they let people in those areas leave their homes and walk around?" he said, referring to coronavirus hotspots.
He said although the infection rate over the past month has been consistent, mass gatherings in places of worship during prayers could lead to another spike.
Eidelman also expressed his dissatisfaction with the new coronavirus czar Prof. Ronni Gamzu, saying that despite his good intentions, no real change has been made and the number of sick has not massively gone down.
"Prof. Gamzu's policy in the beginning was good, based on medicine and science, but nothing moved or changed," Eidelman said. "With every passing day there are more patients in a serious condition, of whom many will die. Why do we wait? Every day that passes is a wasted one. Something must be done soon."
National Security Adviser Meir Ben Shabat appears to be the main proponent of a renewed lockdown, saying on Wednesday that such a decision is not a matter of "if, but when".
Both Ben Shabbat and Gamzu set to attend the coronavirus meeting in order to decide whether another lockdown, similar to the one imposed during Passover and Independence Day, is a viable option. It is still undecided if the lockdown would span over the entire holiday period or imposed only on the holidays themselves.
According to a report by the MACRO Center for Political Economics, a 25-day lockdown spanning from September 17 to October 11 will cost the state an estimated NIS 13.6 billion.
The Health Ministry said earlier 1,637 new coronavirus cases were reported on Wednesday, bringing the total number of confirmed diagnoses since the start of the outbreak to 98,550.
The ministry said the number of patients who have succumbed to the disease now stands at 789.
The number of patients in a serious condition has increased to 403, of whom 110 are ventilated.