Hospital director: 'I don't think we need to start panicking'

Dr. Anat Engel of Wolfson Medical Center confirms rise in number of coronavirus patients, urges public to keep to guidelines.

103FM ,

Flash 90

Wolfson Medical Center Director-General Dr. Anat Engel spoke Wednesday with 103 FM Radio about Israel's second wave of coronavirus and how it has been influenced by the decision to reopen the economy.

"This morning we had ten confirmed patients, including three on ventilators," she said. "We had already been down to two chronically on ventilators, and they had almost turned negative and were just very sick. [These were] elderly people for whom the process was more complicated, especially when they need to recover from a serious condition."

"Three people arrived on foot, their condition had deteriorated and we put them on ventilators. I really do see a rise in the number of confirmed patients, and in the number of patients who are in more serious condition - one has a cardiopulmonary bypass machine, that's how serious his condition is."

"We see that there's an over-relaxation among the public," she added, explaining that one of the most challenging issues in medicine is that of prevention. "To tell healthy people to keep to a healthy lifestyle in order to prevent future illness isn't simple, psychologically. 'It won't happen to me,' [they think]. I think that here as well, we see the same element. We don't see the virus in the air, we feel good, it could be that some people are carriers of the virus and don't know it. Therefore, it's very difficult for the public to manage this process of prevention that we're discussing."

When asked why everyone seems so shocked at the resurgence, Dr. Engel said, "We're not surprised. I don't think that we went to far with regards to going back to normal. I don't think we need to start panicking now. I call this situation, 'routine in the shadow of corona,' and it'll stay this way or another few months."

"We saw the economic side of lockdown and restrictions. As long as there isn't a vaccination or medication which can bring about recovery, prevention is the most important thing. That means wearing masks, keeping two meters [distance], washing hands. These are the rules, and it's not really happening. Society's strength is going back to normal and functioning."

Regarding a new medication which has been found to help some of the patients, Dr. Engel explained that the medication is essentially steroids. "It's a medication that we use," she said, adding that part of the disease is "the body's response to the disease - it's a very strong response by the immune system, and steroids are a question - should we reduce that response? This is something that's newly publicized, it's new. We need to see the results and act accordingly, to see if we should really be giving this treatment."