Israel is headed toward a state of emergency if urgent measures are not taken to rein in the spiraling coronavirus infection rate, the Health Ministry chief said Wednesday.
The country in recent days has seen an increase in the number of new COVID-19 cases, contagion rate and infection coefficient, which some health experts say was a result of the premature easing of some lockdown curbs, including partial reopening of schools and malls.
In an interview with Ynet, Health Ministry Director General Prof. Hezi Levi said if current restrictions are not tightened, Israel might soon find itself in the same position it was before the start of the second lockdown.
"It really does not matter if we call this the beginning of the third wave, the important thing is that we are on a slippery slope and could stand at 2,000 new infections per day if we do not pull ourselves together," he said.
"The coefficient of infection is rising and currently fluctuates between 1.1 and 1.2, which is high. We are definitely going in the direction of the disease worsening. We have reopened schools almost completely, we have reopened a lot of the trade industry. It leads to illness and we must get it together."
The professor said the increase in infection is very worrying because it could soon lead to a state of emergency. "What is a state of emergency? It's overwhelmed hospitals and an increase in the number of deaths. We may not be there yet, but we definitely are moving in that direction."
Although he said the government must halt any further reopening of the economy, he was not convinced a nighttime curfew, which is being discussed in the cabinet, will be very effective in stopping the spread of the pathogen.
"A nighttime curfew alone will do nothing under the conditions of the current restrictions because there is currently no nighttime activity: no events, no parties, no restaurants. A night curfew should be taken with a pinch of salt."
Levi's warning echoed a similar statement on Tuesday by coronavirus czar Prof. Nachman Ash, who also said that Israel was in the midst of an emergency due to soaring infection rates.