יולי אדלשטיין ושרון אלרעי פרייס באילת
Health Minister Yuli Edelstein in Eilat, which the government last week declared open for tourism
Photo: Meir Ohayon
Health Minister Yuli Edelstein in Eilat, which the government last week declared open for tourism

Edelstein: Israel made mistakes in reopening as infection rates rose

As country again sees 1,000 new COVID-19 cases per day, health minister warns there will have to be 'a serious debate over whether or not we need to walk back some of the steps we've taken to reopen the economy'

Adir Yanko |
Published: 11.30.20 , 18:29
Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said Monday that the government made an erroneous decision in allowing commerce to resume too quickly despite a rise in coronavirus cases across Israel.
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  • "There is no secret weapon we have not yet used," Edelstein said. "We will have to have a serious debate over whether or not we need to walk back some of the steps we've taken to reopen the economy."
    The government ignored its own decision to gradually emerge from the second month-long lockdown while taking into consideration the levels of infection, when it allowed high street shops, schools and even some malls to reopen.
    יולי אדלשטיין ושרון אלרעי פרייס באילתיולי אדלשטיין ושרון אלרעי פרייס באילת
    Health Minister Yuli Edelstein in Eilat, which the government last week declared open for tourism
    (Photo: Meir Ohayon)
    "Unfortunately, the government chose to allow shops to operate instead of allocating funds to compensate owners," Edelstein said, "and now we find ourselves with 1,000 new cases of COVID-19 per day."
    Edelstein has been advocating caution during meetings of the coronavirus cabinet, but has often faced opposition from his own Likud party - including Finance Minister Israel Katz, who advocated for businesses suffering from the long-lasting closures.
    But the health minister said it was not just Katz who had gone against health recommendations.
    "Every minister sees his own perspective and not the entire picture," he said.
    קניון מלחה בירושלים פתח את שעריו כחלק מהפיילוטקניון מלחה בירושלים פתח את שעריו כחלק מהפיילוט
    Crowds in a newly reopened mall in Jerusalem on Friday
    (Photo: Amit Shabi)
    Edelstein said he agreed that schools should reopen, but believes that as morbidity is on the rise, commerce should be limited.
    "It is a matter of government-determined priorities," he said.
    There were 985 new cases of the virus diagnosed on Sunday, the Health Ministry said Monday, with a 2.5% positivity rate out of the 37,000 tests conducted. The number of seriously ill patients requiring a ventilator increased dramatically from 92 to 114 overnight.
    The Military Intelligence unit working with the ministry warned however that the true morbidity was higher still.
    Edelstein expressed concern over the high infection rate in the Arab community, attributing it to "weddings being held in violation of mitigation regulations and the number of people travelling to Turkey and returning with the virus."
    מחלקת טיפול נמרץ קורונה בבית החולים איכילובמחלקת טיפול נמרץ קורונה בבית החולים איכילוב
    A healthcare professional treating COVID-19 patients at Ichilov Medical Center in Tel Aviv
    (Photo: TPS)
    The minister noted that most did not quarantine upon their return and enforcement of the law was lacking.
    "We tried to increase the fines but were blocked by the ultra-Orthodox members of the coalition," he said. "But they cannot be the only ones blamed. The opposition also blocked us from taking more effective steps. I don't understand. This is in all of our interests," he said.
    "There must be enforcement along with proper messaging to the public. We've succeeded in educating people not to text while driving for fear they would receive heavy fines, so we should be able to do it again," he said.

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