Outgoing Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar Siman-Tov responded Thursday evening to reports that Deputy Director-General Prof. Itamar Grotto allowed Israeli billionaire Teddy Sagi to skip the two-week quarantine phase after returning to Israel from overseas and to attend a party in Tel Aviv.
In an interview with Channel 12 News, Bar Siman-Tov said: "We will conduct the inquiry process as ordered by the minister. The most important tool we have in managing the epidemic is the public's confidence in the decision-making process."
Bar Siman-Tov refused to criticize Prof. Grotto before the investigation was conducted. "You can't take away from him the part he played in combating the coronavirus crisis," he said, adding: "We need to ensure the public understands that the right to receive special treatment is something which is available to everyone."
"The first thing that must be said is that Itamar Grotto has done many great things and none of that should be taken away from him - they should be recognized," Bar Siman-Tov said. "I'll probably have to find a replacement - I need to hear Grotto's version of events and listen to what he has to say, and then I have to make the right decisions."
Bar Siman-Tov also discussed the increase in the number of new coronavirus patients this week. "We shouldn't guess too much. We see what's happening out there in the world. In many countries there was a large number of fatalities. I'm afraid that in a month or a month and a half we'll see a mass of critically ill patients. None of this can be avoided without proper behavior."
The Health Ministry has begun to carry out 17,000 coronavirus tests a day. According to Bar Siman-Tov, "Israel is much more prepared than it was before. Can we say that the problem has been solved and that we can move on? The answer is no. We need to increase the production capacity of laboratories, train people and buy equipment."