Israel cannot escape another coronavirus lockdown

Opinion: We have no way of reducing the infection rate without harsh and comprehensive containment measures; the question remains when we should implement them and how can we minimize their economic and social harm

Sarit Rosenblum|
It is no longer a question of if Israel will be forced into another complete coronavirus lockdown, but only of "when."
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  • Without harsh and comprehensive containment measures, there is no chance of reducing infections. The problem now is how to implement those measures and how can we minimize their economic and social impact.
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    דרך נמיר
    דרך נמיר
    A deserted Tel Aviv road during the coronavirus lockdown for Passover 2020
    (Photo: Yaniv Schick)
    A lockdown is necessary for several reasons. The State of Israel has no system in place to break the chain of infection. Even the underfunded and helpless system that operated until recently has in fact not been functioning for several weeks.
    The military is yet to set up its own body to battle the pandemic and the Health Ministry abandons tens of thousands of people, who are exposed to new patients every day, and doesn't inform them that they must isolate themselves in their homes.
    Meanwhile, tens of thousands of active patients in Israel continue to spread the disease unhindered.
    The ultra-Orthodox and Arab sectors both have high coronavirus infection rates and no real effort has been made to recruit community leaders in the national battle against the pathogen.
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    מערך חקירות אפידמיולוגיות משרד הבריאות קורונה
    מערך חקירות אפידמיולוגיות משרד הבריאות קורונה
    Health Ministry workers in charge of epidemiological investigations
    (Photo: Avi Moalem)
    As long as Israel does not reach unequivocal success in these sectors, the chances of stopping the spread of COVID-19 are slim.
    And if that weren't enough, time is also against us. Reopening schools after the summer holiday could prove disastrous once more - and the looming Jewish High Holy Days certainly don't help either.
    Even if we miraculously succeed to keep our heads above water in the coming months, winter will come and reshuffle the deck.
    Thousands of new coronavirus infections a day coupled with thousands of people suffering normal seasonal illnesses will create a tsunami of patients and overwhelm hospitals, perhaps even causing the collapse of the entire healthcare system.
    This must be stopped before we lose control of it altogether. This is why, unfortunately, there is no escaping another lockdown that will allow us to regain that control before it is too late.
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    מחלקת קורונה בית חולים שיבא תל השומר
    מחלקת קורונה בית חולים שיבא תל השומר
    Coronavirus ward at Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer
    (Photo: AFP)
    In the meantime, Israel should better prepare its coronavirus response apparatus so when we do come out of a second lockdown, we will be able to effectively isolate those who come into contact with a much lower number of patients and stop another wave of infections.
    But to justify the reactivation of the doomsday weapon both medically and publicly, we must now prepare for the closure itself and for the day after.
    We must continue to strengthen hospitals and health maintenance organizations, ensure the economic survival of all citizens in the near future, and prepare feverishly to give early and effective treatment in future virus hotspots.
    It is time to make bold decisions that punch through the fog of uncertainty as soon as possible, so the public and the various systems can properly prepare for the future.
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