Prof. Gamzu: Flights to Uman a 'medical hazard'

Prof. Gamzu outlines comprehensive program to combat epidemic. 'Most people are cooperating, but a maddening minority persists.'

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Roni Gamzu
Roni Gamzu
Amos Ben Gershon

National Coronavirus Czar, Prof. Ronni Gamzu, presented a two-stage plan for the continued functioning of the state and for dealing with the coronavirus by reducing morbidity with the hope of a return to normal life in the near future.

Cabinet ministers expressed support for the outline presented by Gamzu as well as avoidance of a general lockdown, but did not hold a vote due to disagreements between ministers on how to continue combating the crisis.

Gamzu opened the discussion by emphasizing the severity of the situation, telling MKs that every new day brought with it an average of 1,500 new virus infections, approximately 40 new cases of patients in critical condition, and between 10 and 15 deaths, amounting to some-400 deaths a month.

He noted that the majority of the public was cooperating with Ministry of Health guidelines but that a "maddening minority from all sectors ignores, belittles, and abets the cycle of infection."

Despite the complications, Gamzu recommended maintaining the current plan for battling the disease and giving residents another chance to become part of the process for overcoming the crisis.

Gamzu also called for Breslov chassidim not to travel to Ukraine this year out of concern that this could lead to a large increase in the number of virus cases and increased contagion in Israel following their return home. He voiced his hopes that leaders of the two countries would work together to ban the pilgrimage entirely out of concern for the public's wellbeing.

The first of Gamzu's recommendations includes continuing to "try to curb the virus followed by completely stopping it." Gamzu's assertion that the epidemic can be slowed comes despite a steady rise in infections. His plan consists of continued development of infrastructure for battling the virus including employing the military for epidemiological investigations, using the Home Front Command to manage the crisis in dozens of cities across the country, and full implementation of the "traffic light" program (see below).

School openings

According to the current government plan, schools are to open on September 1 in grades 1-2, according to the existing outline. Studies in higher grades will be conducted in "capsules" two days a week, with the rest on ZOOM.

Contingency plan

The second part of the plan entails tightened measures which will be implemented by the government if the infection rate remains constant or increases in the next month, or if the country's hospitals reach full capacity. Measures under consideration include closing malls, markets, restaurants, and cultural events. The nation's schools - including special education and early childhood programs - would be shut. Traffic restrictions will be implemented on the High Holidays.

In addition, any workplace that grants entrance to the general public will be required to close temporarily, emergency measures will be announced in the public sector, private sector businesses will be allowed to continue operating with 30% of their regular staff, individuals will be restricted to within 500 meters of their places of residence over the High Holidays, and festival gatherings will be limited to members of the nuclear family.

Traffic light plan

In addition to the two contingency plans, it was recommended that a "traffic light" program be implemented from the start of September. According to this program, businesses would face restrictions based on their maximum capacity rather than on the nature of the specific business. This plan will be submitted to the Knesset for approval after concrete regulations are formulated.

At the end of the cabinet meeting, Professor Gamzu voiced optimism for the program, stating, "I am convinced that the traffic light model for local authorities will be approved with the necessary adjustments, provided that public health is assured and the restrictions that are imposed are tailored to local infection rates."