Israel could reimpose nationwide lockdown, senior health ministry official warns

Speaking with Arutz Sheva, Health Ministry official urges public to follow ministry regulations, warns Israel might return to full lockdown.

Nitzan Keidar ,

Health Ministry inspectors enforcing lockdown
Health Ministry inspectors enforcing lockdown
Health Ministry

The ongoing ‘second wave’ of coronavirus infections has raised serious concerns both in the government’s Coronavirus Cabinet, and in the Health Ministry, leading to the cancellation or delay of plans to lift certain restrictions passed early on in the pandemic.

Partial closures have been ordered on neighborhoods with high infection rates, as the government looks to curb the rise in infection rates, with 2.4% of people tested confirmed as being infected with the virus.

On Wednesday, a senior Health Ministry official warned that the government may consider restoring the nationwide lockdown.

Dr. Tzion Shlusberg, who heads the Health Ministry’s department for special communities and is a member of the Health Ministry’s public relations team, told Arutz Sheva that the recent increase in both the daily number of coronavirus infections and rise in the infection rate among those tested were cause for concern.

“We need to be very worried, and to act responsibly, because in the end, if people understand that social distancing and wearing masks and using hand sanitizers are enough, it will put us on a different place on the scale, things will change. You can see the numbers, they are not reassuring to say the least, and everyone needs to take this seriously.”

“There is always the matter of balancing risks, weighing medical considerations against reopening the economy, and in the end, there is the Health Ministry’s plan and the professional opinions of experts from other ministries, with the Prime Minister making the final decision. I think that everyone who is paying attention here sees the reality and can understand that everyone must make a change for themselves and for those around them,” he said.

Dr. Shlusberg lauded the government’s decision to increase the fine for individuals failing to wear a mask in public.

“If people don’t understand it themselves, then police need to help them by enforcing it. People don’t get that when the numbers go up, that doesn’t just mean more people are infected, but that there will also be more people in moderate or serious condition, which means it’s just a matter of time until there is a drastic rise in the number of people on ventilators. But we have the ability to stop this. In my opinion, someone who doesn’t do this [wear a mask in public] is a ‘rodef’ [someone who threatens the lives of others].”

Regarding the possibility that Israel could be placed under nationwide lockdown again, Dr. Shlusberg said “all the options are on the table.”

“Right now they’re saying we won’t go back to lockdown mode, but if there are more outbreaks in the population or certain neighborhoods, I think the lockdown option will remain a possibility.”