Coronavirus czar Nachman Ash: 'Do we want Purim parties or do we want schools?'

Prof. Nachman Ash, coronavirus czar, warns 'many young people who survive have breathing difficulties, rise in infections will set us back.'

103FM ,

Nachman Ash
Nachman Ash
David Cohen/Flash90

Coronavirus czar Professor Nachman Ash on Tuesday morning warned of the fallout from Purim parties, urging Israelis to use caution.

In an interview with 103 FM Radio, Ash said, "It's really an inconceivable number - over two million people have died of the virus around the world. It's a very harsh plague, and managing it is very complex, both for everyone and for us. For us the numbers are lower, but still, every victim is a victim."

Ash also said that managing the pandemic isn't just about the numbers: "Right now, we're also seeing young people. Even among those who survive, many of them remain with breathing difficulties and other issues for a long time. It's a harsh disease."

Regarding the reopening of Ben Gurion International Airport, Ash said that quarantine in quarantine hotels "isn't perfect, both with regards to the number of people entering quarantine hotels, and with regards to how those people feel."

"Ben Gurion Airport is a entrance channel for infection in general and for unique mutations which can change the path of the pandemic for us. We know this already happened with the British mutation. The key, at the end of the day, is that there should be good quarantine for people returning from abroad - testing, and also quarantine. In theory people can do quarantine at home, but we know that it is very hard to rely on people to keep that properly."

Regarding the Israelis stranded abroad and the limited number of people allowed to enter Israel, Prof. Ash said: "I understand, and it's hard for me that Israelis are stranded abroad, and we need to find a solution for this. We are working hard to find solutions for this issue, and I hope that we will find solutions that will ensure that the quarantine is done properly."

When asked his opinion on whether those arriving in Israel should be made to wear an electronic wristband, he said: "I call it an electronic bracelet, and if they were to let me choose at the airport between a coronavirus hotel and an electronic bracelet, I would choose the bracelet."

Noting that "a rise in infection will set us back" and the possibility of a holiday curfew, Ash said, "we need to decide: Do we want Purim parties, or do we want schools?"

In a survey of approximately 3,000 coronavirus cases in Israel, the South African mutation was found in approximately 1% of them, he explained. "It's as infectious as the British [mutation], it's uniqueness from the British strain is its relative immunity to the vaccine. In the lab, antibodies from vaccinated individuals neutralize this strain less than the British strain."

The Ugandan strain, he said, "has been seen in one case. Right now we know that it is common in Uganda, that it is in other places around the world in very small numbers, and that we have also seen one case. It has no unique features."