Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis
Dr. Sharon Alroy-PreisArutz Sheva

Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, who heads Israel's Public Health Services, on Monday morning participated in a meeting of the Constitution Committee regarding the closure of Ben Gurion International Airport.

At the meeting, she explained why Israel's infection rate has not dropped, despite the lockdown and vaccine program.

"Despite the fact that the infection coefficient is dropping, we are still very much overwhelmed," she said. "We are in this position because of the British mutation." She added that one-hundred percent of those arriving in Israel today are tested, unlike how policies were over the past few months.

Later in the meeting, Dr. Alroy-Preis noted that closing the airport for six days will not be enough to stop mutations from entering Israel, emphasizing that the government needs to extend the closure further.

"At this point, six days means we are stopping right now and making some order, but it's not going to be enough. It needs to be longer. Six days will not change anything with regards to the mutations. We will need several weeks in order to allow the vaccine program to advance at a fast pace so that even if contagious variants come in, we will be able to gain control of them," she explained.

"We are growing the mutations in Tel Hashomer [Hospital] and we are trying to see if the vaccine helps. Right now we don't know why the vaccine isn't effective and we assume that for most mutations, it is effective, but it takes time."

She added, "Right now, the infection statistics are very worrisome. The number of new cases is dropping but we still have a record number of intubated patients - something we've never had before. When we had 4,000 confirmed cases with an infection coefficient of 1.3, it was clear where we were headed, but right now we have an infection coefficient of 0.9 but yesterday we had a record number of 67 deaths, and we need to see how this unfolds."

"We need to see that the vaccine is beginning to have an effect and that there is a drop also in the number of critically and seriously ill patients, in addition to the coefficient. We haven't yet decided what the end benchmark is. Closing the skies will, in my estimation, be for at least a month in order to allow us to reach three million people vaccinated."

With regards to the education system, Dr. Alroy-Preis said that schools "are not the initiating factor in this pandemic, but they are a contributing factor. The moment children go places, even within capsules, it still becomes a place where there are larger gatherings. Right now with the English variant, it's worse - 40% of infections are children, which is a larger number than their percentage in the population. When exiting the second lockdown, we had 29% and we see a rise in infections among children ages 6-9 - which are exactly the grades scheduled to go back to school. We are following this."