Israel’s Health Ministry says lockdown possible over Chanukah

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Israeli police seen at the entrance to the neighborhood of Ramot in Yerushalayim as Israel enforces a lockdown in September. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90) Source: www.hamodia.com

By Assaf Golan, Maytal Yasur Beit-Or & Eran Itzkovitch for Israel Hayom via JNS.org

In late November, Israeli Health Ministry Director General Hezi Levy said that he doesn’t know if there will be a lockdown over Chanukah, “but we are identifying an increase in morbidity, and it could lead to new restrictions.”

Levy made the remarks at a special press conference following the decision by the so-called ‘Coronavirus Cabinet’ to allow for Eilat and the Dead Sea to be designated as ‘tourism islands,’ in addition to an easing of restrictions on the number of customers allowed inside stores and an opening of zoos.

“Today, 780 verified patients have been identified out of around 50 000 tests. There is a slight increase in morbidity,” he said, noting that the number had remained stable among younger members of the population.
“The rate of reproduction is now hovering around 1.08, a higher value than the target we set out for moving forward with the framework for easing restrictions. As for hospitalised [patients], there is a plateau in the number of serious patients, without any sharp increases or decreases,” he said.

Levy said that “absent a catastrophe,” fifth- and sixth-grade students would be allowed to return to in-person learning as planned. He called on the teachers of those students to be tested for the coronavirus before returning to school.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation Regional Director for Europe Hans Kluge claimed that states could avoid a lockdown if their citizens adhered to Coronavirus guidelines. Lockdowns should be a “last resort,” he said. “There would be no need for lockdowns if 95 percent of people wore masks, instead of the [current] 60 percent,” he said.

While Kluge said that progress on developing a vaccine for the virus was encouraging, the world must not become complacent, as the vaccines would not be available over the winter, and as result, many countries could still see their healthcare systems collapse under the pressure of a sharp spike in infections.

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

Published in the print edition of the December 2020/January 2021 issue.
Download the Dec/Jan issue PDF here.

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