שרית רוזנבלום
Sarit Rosenblum
Photo: Dana Kopel
A coronavirus testing facility at Ben-Gurion Airport

Israel is on the ropes in the battle again the pandemic

Opinion: A failure to understand cause and effect in the fight against COVID is a symptom shared by all involved in this farce: the government announces the commendable policy of living alongside coronavirus, but then fails to take the most basic steps to safeguard us

Sarit Rosenblum |
Published: 07.26.21, 23:30
The manner in which Israel is handling the ongoing surge in coronavirus infections is testament to the inherent difficulty people have in coming to terms with reality.
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  • The conclusion one must reach from looking at the events of recent weeks is that Israeli adults - like their poor children - have learned nothing in the past year and a half as we battled the pathogen.
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    אוהל בדיקות הקורונה החדש בנתב"ג
    אוהל בדיקות הקורונה החדש בנתב"ג
    A coronavirus testing facility at Ben-Gurion Airport
    (Photo: Avi Hai)
    The inconceivable failure to understand the cause-and-effect relationship in the fight against the pandemic is a symptom shared by all those involved in this farce: the Israeli government announces the commendable policy of living alongside the virus, but does not take the most basic steps necessary to safeguard our lives and economic activities, despite the risk of infection.
    As the number of patients continues to rise, entire days are passing without government action, and the measures that are implemented are late and few and far between.
    The public, some of whom have not yet recovered from over a year of lockdowns, longs for a sense of normalcy. They want to work, to relax, to take part in recreational activities.
    But at the same time, they continue to ignore the simplest public safety measures, which would have allowed us to preserve all of our past achievements at minimal personal cost.
    This is stems from people's delusional belief that they are cheating the system, without being aware that they themselves are the first to pay a heavy price as a result of this collective shirking of civic responsibility.
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    יפעת שאשא ביטון בכנס בחירות בראשון לציון
    יפעת שאשא ביטון בכנס בחירות בראשון לציון
    Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton
    (Photo: Moti Kimchi)
    Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton is one of those who has yet to come to terms with this reality.
    The flimsy, negligent outline published by her ministry on Sunday regarding the reopening of schools on September 1 will not only fail to protect against the virus, but will lead to thousands of sick children who are at risk of long-term effects from the infection – a black spot on her future political resume and on her conscience.
    Instead of building a logical and concrete plan, which will ensure the safety of Israel's young people, the education minister instead prefers to cut corners, introducing an outline that fits with her own worldview.
    The notion that the coming school year will open as usual is delusional at best.
    The plan to cut down quarantine for teachers and students to just two days, despite the fact that the incubation period for the virus can last for up to two weeks, is outright fantasy.
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    נתב"ג
    נתב"ג
    Crowded and long lines of passengers at Ben-Gurion Airport last week
    (Photo: Kobi Kuankas)
    Meanwhile, the total chaos at Ben-Gurion Airport persists despite the government's commitment to plug the holes. Hundreds of thousands of Israelis are jetting abroad and back like the pandemic is happening to other people.
    With no responsible adult to take control of this mess, the pathogen has won. The number of daily cases continues to rise, with serious cases doubling every two weeks.
    The morbidity that has until recently has only been seen in the center of Israel, has now spread to every corner of the country. At this pace, we are just a few weeks away from thousands of new cases and hundreds of serious patients each day.
    This is not a projection but the cold hard truth. This state of affairs cannot continue.
    The country's health institutions are already showing the strain from the rise in morbidity. The health funds are failing to cope with the increased testing - results are being delayed and the IDF's track and trace apparatus also failing to keep up.
    This is not how you win a pandemic; this is barely an honorable defeat.
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    חיסון שלישי למדוכאי חיסונים בשיבא
    חיסון שלישי למדוכאי חיסונים בשיבא
    An elderly man receives his coronavirus vaccine booster shot at Sheba Medical Center, July 2021
    (Photo: Getty Images)
    Instead of anticipating the case surge and accepting relatively light restrictions that could have protected us or at least lowered the burden until we better understood where we are and where we are headed, the Israeli public and their elected officials have chosen to focus other issues such as the efficacy of the vaccines.
    Granted, this is an important issue that demands scientific answers, if only for practical reasons: if our vaccine immunity fades, a third dose will immediately help resolve the problem. If the vaccine is less effective against the Delta variant, a third dose will be of no use.
    At this point it can be said with a high degree of certainty that the chances of vaccinated people becoming seriously ill are significantly lower than those who have not been vaccinated, so the vaccine is still highly recommended to anyone who is still hesitant.
    At this stage, we have to focus on what is under our control, rather than what isn't. We must increase the number of vaccinated, require isolation for anyone returning from abroad, including those have been vaccinated, reinstitute the Green Pass for every type of public gathering small and large, and urgently prepare for the expected burden on the health system – which at the current pace will come faster than we think.
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