שושנה חן כתבת ידיעות אחרונות
Shoshana Chen
Photo: Yuval Chen
PM Benjamin Netanyahu, Health Ministry DG Moshe Bar-Siman-Tov and Health Minister Yaakov Litzman speaking at the peak of the outbreak

Israel needs to sharpen its message on coronavirus

Opinion: Harsh reality has done away with the usual method of angry headmaster berating insolent schoolchildren, a population with virus fatigue must be made to understand the danger that still exists around us

Shoshana Chen |
Published: 07.04.20 , 09:26
An eight-year-old told me his friend killed his grandfather. As I stood there in shock he explained: "My friend got coronavirus, and didn't show symptoms, but his grandfather got it from him and died."
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  • I do not know to what extent the story is right, but it does raise a vital question: How would you react when a sweet child tells you that he didn't want to kill his grandfather. Would you don a face mask and adhere to the rules?
    משה בר סימן טוב עם נתניהו וליצמן באחד מתדרוכי הקורונהמשה בר סימן טוב עם נתניהו וליצמן באחד מתדרוכי הקורונה
    PM Benjamin Netanyahu, Health Ministry DG Moshe Bar-Siman-Tov and Health Minister Yaakov Litzman speaking at the peak of the outbreak
    (Photo: Shalev Shalom)
    Its time for Israel's purveyors of coronavirus information to think outside of the box.
    The situation on the ground has made the usual methods obsolete. The age-old method of harsh headmaster beating facts into heads of us insolent school children has stopped working.
    It's hard to market a terrible product like coronavirus. It kills, destroys our quality of life, damages the public health, eats away at the fabric of society, ruins the economy, kills our plans for vacations abroad - and quite honestly, we are all sick and tired of it.
    We are exhausted and drowning in a sea of anger and accusations over poor management, contradictory and confusing messages, "elites" not caring about the rules and horrendously discriminatory policies.
    Problem is that the virus is still alive and kicking.
    שכונת הרכבת בלודשכונת הרכבת בלוד
    A cyclist wears a mask in the central city of Lod
    (Photo: TPS)
    The numbers keep rising, but masks, social distancing and basic hygiene keep us as safe as we can.
    So why is it that some treat wearing a protective face mask as merely a suggestion?
    Fines will only help if they are large, painful and accompanied by rigid policing. Anyone out without a mask should be fined tens of thousands of shekels, no questions asked.
    But such a model is not applicable to Israel.
    The only tool left for officials to explain the situation to the public is the country's army of editors and copywriters.
    The flood of videos and photos by Health Minister Yuli Edelstein only benefit the ministry's spokesperson. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's pleas just go in one ear and out the other.
    אזרחים מקבלים דוחות על אי חבישת מסכהאזרחים מקבלים דוחות על אי חבישת מסכה
    Police enforcing coronavirus restrictions
    (Photo: Shalev Shalom)
    Where are the big guns that were brought out for election campaigns? This is a battle for our lives, not your Knesset seats.
    And let us not forget the sector experts, each able to communicate the information to the parts of society who refuse to adhere to public health regulations.
    We need to use the right ambassadors and influencers for each section of the public and use short and precise messages.
    We need a daily briefing, with clear and accurate numbers and conclusions, and to do away with the thrice-daily charts from different organizations, all with contradictory data.
    Hire somebody to head this operation. It doesn't need to be a ministry official, perhaps it could be a senior doctor who has cared for coronavirus patients and who can use those experiences to communicate the necessary information to the public.
    But whoever it is, they must make the information sharp and focused - and for all our sakes, do it quickly.

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