Lockdown imposed for a third time  in Jerusalem
Police officers patrol in Jerusalem during Israel's third coronavirus lockdown
Photo: Reuters
Police officers patrol in Jerusalem during Israel's third coronavirus lockdown

Public health official says lockdown won't slow spread of COVID

Prof. Levine insists restrictions imposed on Israelis have no medical justification and enforcement should be reserved for sources of infection, bungled response to pandemic only adds to public's distrust of government

Attila Somfalvi |
Published: 12.29.20 , 20:19
"The lockdown will not slow the spread of coronavirus to the extent that we want to," Professor Hagai Levine, Chairman of the Public-Health Doctor's Association said on Tuesday.
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  • "Yet, with the third lockdown now in place, we are causing irreparable damage to the lives of Israelis. I am afraid that the government has opted once again for a generalized approach that is not effective instead of treating contagion where it occurs," he said.
    Lockdown imposed for a third time  in Jerusalem Lockdown imposed for a third time  in Jerusalem
    Police officers patrol in Jerusalem during Israel's third coronavirus lockdown
    (Photo: Reuters)
    Levine told Ynet in an interview that he was concerned that the government's decision-making was based on political play rather than facts.
    "There is no rime or reason to some of these decisions," he said. "Last week, the government decided to mandate isolation at state-run coronavirus hotels for all arrivals from abroad. That was an unreasonable order because people can quarantine at home in many cases," he said.
    "We, the public health experts, told ministers their decision which, may seem like an abundance of caution, would backfire and that forcing all those people into quarantine in hotels, would only add to the public's distrust [in the government's handling of the pandemic] and reluctance to cooperate in the national effort to slow the spread of the virus," Levine said. "The government ignores logic and the public's interest."
    פרופ' חגי לויןפרופ' חגי לוין
    Professor Hagai Levine
    (Photo: Ynet)
    Levine continued to slam the government for some restrictions he deemed unnecessary from a medical perspective but financially devastating for businesses.
    "These decisions compel people to break the law, work off the books and become tax evaders," he said, adding that the phenomenon also increases the risk of contracting the virus as more people find themselves working in unmonitored environments.
    Levine also said he believed the government's response to the pandemic was directed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his allies in the National Security Council rather than by the advice of the Health Ministry or experts in the field.
    עסק בתל אביב עסק בתל אביב
    A food stall in Tel Aviv during COVID-19 lockdown
    (Photo: Reuters)
    "This is absurd," he said "They are not public health experts. They may be qualified to fight terror or respond to war, but that is not the way to fight a pandemic. The public is not the enemy and officials must work with citizens, and not against them. They must convince the public to work together for their own good and for the greater good."
    "I strongly recommend everyone to avoid going to other people's homes or offices in order to avoid infections. But the government should not enforce such a restriction because it only causes animosity towards authorities."
    He went on to express his frustration with an order prohibiting Israelis from venturing more than one kilometer (0.6 miles) from home he believed could not be enforced.
    "People go to work, they go to exercise, they go to school, this is just empty talk on the part of the government," he said.
    מאיר בן שבת ובנימין נתניהומאיר בן שבת ובנימין נתניהו
    Prime Minister Netanyahu and National Security Adviser Meir Ben Shabbat
    (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)
    "I expect morbidity to continue rising. We know from the media where infections happen, we know there are parties, weddings, and other events that cause many infections. This is where authorities should act. Everything else is just a waste of energy."
    "The risk of infection is high. Even lining up to get the vaccine is a risky excursion so we must all look out for ourselves when coming into contact with others. Wear masks and open a window. If we take those simple precautions, we will reduce illness and be able to get back to our normal lives."
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