אוהלי בדיקות בגני התערוכה
The unopened testing site in Tel Aviv
Prof. Itamar Grotto

Health Ministry official: Coronavirus restrictions could last weeks or months

The ministry Deputy Director-General Itamar Grotto says authorities are taking realistic look at situation, says while reluctant to cause panic, experts can see from tracking progress of virus that there could be thousands of fatalities in Israel

Ynet |
Published: 03.18.20 , 11:43
The tight restrictions on Israelis aimed at stemming the spread of the coronavirus could last for weeks or even months, Health Ministry Deputy Director-General Prof. Itamar Grotto told Ynet on Wednesday.

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  • The measures implemented by Israel include limited public transport, a ban on leaving the house for non-essential reasons and the closure of educational institutions.
    Prof. Itamar Grotto Prof. Itamar Grotto
    Prof. Itamar Grotto
    (Photo: Asaf Magal)
    Meanwhile, the "drive-through" coronavirus test complex in Tel Aviv will not open Wednesday due to a lack of test kits and markers.
    It is unclear when the complex will open; the Magen David Adom emergency service is trying to obtain test kits.
    "It may be that the weather will have some kind of impact that we do not know, or that there could be some extraordinary drop [in the number of infected], or there be some amazing drug that can treat patients," Grotto said.
    But, he added, "we have to be realistic, take a look at the situation and say, okay this is going to be a few weeks to months."
    אוהלי בדיקות בגני התערוכהאוהלי בדיקות בגני התערוכה
    The unopened testing site in Tel Aviv
    On Wednesday morning, the Health Ministry announced a sharp rise in the number of patients in Israel, with an increase of 90 to 427.
    "This indicates a rise in the number of patients and it indicates a significant progression of the disease in Israel," Grotto said. "This means we have to be sure to take these steps so that it doesn't reach a scale that the Health Ministry cannot handle."
    Grotto also addressed criticism that the stringent restrictions had been implemented too slowly.
    "It's clear that there are patients who have been out in the community and there are those whose diagnosis was missed during the system of tests, but it's not in large numbers yet" he said.
    "We definitely think it's still feasible to provide at least some relief [in the number of cases]. I'm not saying we can avoid it altogether and reach zero cases, but we can certainly get to a more moderate scenario. It's time to put our foot on the gas the hardest."
    Grotto also addressed a warning from Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar-Siman-Tov, who said Tuesday that thousands could die in Israel from virus.
    "We are often careful not to discuss all kinds of scenarios so as not to create unnecessary panic," he said.
    "But at least according to all the models we see, these are the scenarios. We also see that overall the situation is progressing in line with predictions, so we are increasingly convinced that we are heading in that direction."

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