Israel started August with the goal of getting new coronavirus infections down from 2000 to under 500 by the end of the month. Unfortunately, we have gone the opposite direction, hitting over 5,000 on Tuesday. With a record spike in coronavirus cases in the past week, Israel is heading into the Rosh Hashanah holiday under the shadow of a national lockdown and an acute sense of confusion over what that specifically entails.
The lockdown is set to begin on Friday at 2 p.m. and will effectively shutter stores, restaurants, schools and gyms (among many other institutions) for at least three weeks. But it remains unclear how it will end – and even whether it will be effective.
In fact, the head of the doctors union, Hagai Levine, said the lockdown is the “stupidest and most hazardous solution” to the crisis.
“We should not shut down the country because of infected cases per day,” he told The Times of Israel. “This is more a media pandemic. The media is making such a fuss regarding the numbers. The scale we are at in hospitals is really relatively low.”
“You have to look at the health of all populations, not COVID-19 only, and people don’t understand that you need to look at the overall picture,” he said. “They don’t see the healthy people who will become depressed, lose health because of economic reasons, become subject to [domestic] violence, or gain weight and die of a heart attack.”
And while every death is a tragedy, the death rate is still low. Just over 1,000 people have died in seven months from coronavirus, and many of them had underlying conditions. That is from a population of 9,000,000. Israel death per case is under one percent at 0.68%, one of the lowest in the world.
Opposition leader Yair Lapid called on the government to resign in shame.
“The only country in the world putting its citizens into a second lockdown, needs to resign first,” Lapid said. “It’s an admission of failure. The citizens are being punished because the government has failed. This lockdown isn’t necessary from a healthcare perspective. It’s a death blow to the Israeli economy.”
“This lockdown won’t save lives, it will cost lives,” he continued. “Depression kills, hopelessness kills. People won’t go to hospital with a heart attack; the elderly wi