Does Health Ministry manipulate numbers to increase fear?

Ministry cancels COVID-19 testing op for concern test results would lower national morbidity data rate, which would pressure decision makers

Mordechai Sones ,

Test-and-go
Test-and-go
Flash 90

Channel 12 News reports IDF Home Front Command and Magen David Adom were prepared for a test operation in industrial and high-tech factories, but at the last minute the Health Ministry decided to cancel the plan. The sampling operation was supposed to include about 1,500 daily COVID-19 tests dedicated to employees of factories such as the Electric Company and the aerospace industry, as well as employees of companies such as Sodastream and Neviot. However, due to concerns that the test results would lower the national morbidity data rate, the operation was canceled.

The sampling was to have been done inside factory "test-and-go" stations. Among the companies and factories that were supposed to take part in the sampling operation were: Employees of the Electric Company, IAI, Sodastream, Neviot, Keter, Tapogen, Tirkovot Brom, and more.

An official document obtained by Channel 12 written by IDF Home Front Command Alon headquarters, tasked with cutting the contagion chain, reads: "In order to expand the testing potential, sampling will be carried out in industrial plants and high-tech parks for workers in the economy. The goal is to help cut off the chain of infection and thus maintain the continuity of functioning of these centers and factories."

A knowledgeable source told Channel 12 News that the reason for the Health Ministry refusal to carry out the operation is fear that test results will distort national morbidity data. "Since the beginning of the epidemic, factories have been working in capsules, and no outbreaks have been recorded yet. The Health Ministry feared that if they did testing in the factories, it could lower the national average, thus leading to a change in decision-makers' approach."

An employee at one of the factories that was supposed to take part in the operation told Channel 12: "A COVID-19 outbreak in a vital plant could have fatal consequences, so it's advisable to use the tests to detect people testing positive for the virus who could cause such an outbreak, and protect workers and their families."

The Health Ministry responded: "It was not decided to abolish sampling in high-tech factories and parks, but to move to other workplaces that have morbidity such as red or flashing orange cities, and not in the form of a survey in the entire State of Israel regardless of morbidity."

Former Health Minister Professor Yoram Lass responded to the report: "The Health Ministry is cynically manipulating numbers to increase fear."



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