'Up to 40 thousand could die in Israel if we don't lock down,' Energy Minister insists

Basing his estimate on a 3% fatality rate provided by doctors, Energy Minister Steinitz insists a lockdown is the only reasonable solution.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz
Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz
Arutz Sheva

103 FM interviewed Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud) on Wednesday morning regarding the latest steps taken by the government to combat the continued spread of the coronavirus epidemic. Schools have been ordered to close in 40 localities across the country, and night curfews have been imposed for the coming week, from seven o’clock at night until five in the morning.

“Its too little, too late,” Steinitz begins, referring to the “traffic light” program of which the closures and curfews are a key part. “We now have around 3,500 new virus cases being diagnosed every day, and that’s a very worrying figure. It translates to more than a million and a quarter sick people per year, if things continue at the same rate. The new regulations are better than nothing, though I have my doubts as to whether they will succeed in stabilizing the rate of increase. What I am certain about is that it will not lead to a decrease in the morbidity rate.”

Steinitz also added his assessment that at the current rate of morbidity, the country could ultimately see over 12,000 people dying as a result of the epidemic in the coming year. “Doctors are giving an estimated 3% fatality rate in the current situation,” he notes, “which translates to somewhere between 12 and 40 thousand deaths, depending on fluctuations. And add to that another 4 to 5 million people entering isolation for two weeks, at various points during the coming year – that’s the scale of it.”

In fact, Steinitz was even more pessimistic, saying that he believes that “the rate is going to increase even more. That’s why I say it’s better to suffer through two tough weeks of lockdown, with only essential services permitted to remain in operation, rather than a whole year of gradual ‘bleeding.’ What’s the question? We saw that the March-April lockdown did lead to a substantial decrease in the rate of contagion, and surely a lockdown such as that is better than the scenarios I described?

“We definitely need another lockdown,” he insisted, adding that, “If we do it right, we can at least avoid the necessity of a third closure.” He also noted that the United Kingdom, faced with a new rise in cases, has made what may seem the draconian decision to ban all public gatherings numbering more than six people, after just a thousand new cases per day. Compared to the far smaller Israeli population, “that’s equivalent to around 300 new cases per day here,” he says.

In summation, Steinitz claimed that, “The economy will be much more severely impacted by more than half a year or up to a year of high contagion rates than by a ‘breathable’ lockdown for a couple of weeks. That's why a lockdown is my recommendation.”