פרופסור איתמר גרוטו
Health Ministry Deputy Director-General Itamar Grotto
Photo: Alex Gamburg
Health Ministry Deputy Director-General Itamar Grotto

Health Ministry No. 2: Coronavirus spread matches 'more optimistic scenario'

Senior health official says measures to fight virus will bear fruit in coming days, number of tests for pathogen set to reach 5,000 daily this week and double week after

Alexandra Lukash |
Published: 03.23.20 , 17:56
Health Ministry Deputy Director-General Itamar Grotto said on Monday that although the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Israel keeps climbing steadily, the figures match the ministry's "more optimistic" predictions.
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  • "There are no exponential leaps [in numbers of cases]," Prof. Grotto told Ynet. "I hope we will maintain this level of new cases. This is how we know that the steps we've taken are starting to be effective."
    פרופסור איתמר גרוטופרופסור איתמר גרוטו
    Health Ministry Deputy Director-General Itamar Grotto
    (Photo: Alex Gamburg)
    "We'll have to wait a couple of days to see whether these steps are working. In another two weeks, they will start affecting the rate of severe illness and mortality rates."
    Grotto said that the number of coronavirus tests conducted by health authorities, which stands at a few thousand a day, is increasing and will even double by next week.
    "I think we've definitely reached our goal," Grotto said. "Now, our next goal is to maintain these figures for the next couple of days and then reach 7,000-8,000 tests a day."
    "We hope to reach at least 7,000 this week and then double that figure by next week."
    Coronavirus test (illustration)Coronavirus test (illustration)
    Coronavirus test (illustration)
    (Photo: Getty Images)
    The Health Ministry's official goal is to reach 5,000 tests a day until next week and 10,000 within two and a half weeks, but according to the ministry's data, only 3,230 coronavirus tests were conducted in the last 24 hours. Professor Grotto estimates that over 30,000 tests for the pathogen have been conducted in Israel so far.
    Grotto repeated his earlier estimate that up to 20,000 Israelis could die from the coronavirus if the spread of the disease spins out of control, but that number would be still a negligible number out of the total mortality rate.
    "Over 40,000 people in Israel die annually for a host of reasons. If coronavirus adds another ten thousand, it is relatively negligible, and since some patients suffer from serious underlying conditions, some of them would have passed away anyway," says Grotto. "So, you must look at the addition, it is wrong to only look at the absolute number."
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