התמונה של פרופ' זאב רוטשטיין
Prof. Zeev Rotstein
Photo: Shaul Golan
A coronavirus testing facility in central Israel

Israel needs to step up its testing game

Opinion: It seems that the government has finally realized that the key to defeating coronavirus lies in testing; this is an opportunity to further target one of the pandemic's main drivers, the asymptomatic super-spreaders who create mass infection without knowing

Zeev Rotstein |
Published: 09.11.20 , 09:52
"Get tested," has been the recent refrain coming from municipal officials in coronavirus hotpots - and it is a new one.
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  • What caused this shift in opinion among public leaders is clearly an effort to get their neighborhoods, towns and cities out of the "red" zone and escape all the restrictions that go along with such a classification.
    בדיקות קורונה ברמת השרוןבדיקות קורונה ברמת השרון
    A coronavirus testing facility in central Israel
    (Photo: AFP)
    Logic dictates that as more people get tested and are subsequently isolated, the infection rate will go down.
    These local officials already know that another nationwide lockdown will equally impact both those who are sick and those who are not - and testing is the only way to prevent that.
    And as these calls went out en masse, the labs managed to process 44,000 tests, with many of the positive results being for asymptomatic patients.
    For the last six months, I have campaigned for a more aggressive stance on the pandemic that has hurt our nation so severely. Even excluding the tragedy of more than 1,000 dead and their grieving families, it has badly harmed our economy and deepened internal divisions.
    שוטר מג"ב מציב מחסום בשכונה בבית שמש סגר לילי קורונהשוטר מג"ב מציב מחסום בשכונה בבית שמש סגר לילי קורונה
    A police checkpoint during coronavirus curfew at Jerusalem
    (Photo: AP)
    Finally, however, it seems that the government is realizing that the root of defeating this virus lies in testing, which is a good thing.
    Increased testing is an opportunity to further understand one of the pandemic's main drivers – the super-spreaders.
    These super-spreaders are asymptomatic virus carriers who create mass infection among all those who come into contact with them.
    They go to weddings, attend public gatherings or just meet with other people, never knowing they are spreading the virus. And this is why increased testing is crucial, for we must root them out before it is too late.
    מעבדות לבדיקת קורונה של צה"למעבדות לבדיקת קורונה של צה"ל
    An IDF coronavirus testing lab in Tel Aviv
    (Photo: AFP)
    But a fully functioning contact-tracing system will only become operational in Israel in November. Therefore, the recent calls from local leaders in "red zones" to get tested are premature.
    Let's cast a net to catch those asymptomatic super-spreaders before they can infect others; we need end the defensive strategy and go on the offense against this virus.
    The main objective is plain and simple – halting the rising infection rate and returning our lives to normal.

    Prof. Zeev Rotstein is the CEO of Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem
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