Ronni Gamzu
Ronni Gamzu Olivier Pitoussi

Israel’s Coronavirus Czar said Tuesday he has no intention of stepping down, despite criticism of his handling of the ongoing crisis, Israel Hayom reported.

In an interview with Israel Hayom Tuesday morning, Prof. Ronni Gamzu defended his policies and vowed to continue on as director of Israel’s efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

“You don’t leave a position like this in the middle of such a complicated event, even if it is difficult to reach decisions,” said Gamzu.

Gazmu defended his “traffic light” program, which categorizes towns and cities in Israel based on the rate of infection, designating areas with high-levels of infection as “red”, areas with mid-to-high levels of infection as “orange”, mid-to-low levels as “yellow”, and low levels as “green”, with progressively strict restrictions imposed on towns based on the infection rate.

“The traffic light program is a powerful tool for handling the pandemic. It doesn’t lower [the infection rate], but it changes the dialogue. Instead of dealing with the pandemic on a national scale, you give incentives to municipalities to fight for their cities. Look at what kind of dialogue this creates when each municipality is fighting to say ‘I’m not red’. It’s a shame this wasn’t done four or five months ago.”

Gamzu also pushed back on criticism of the nightly curfews set to be imposed on 40 ‘red’ cities and towns across Israel.

“Those who mock this don’t understand epidemiology. People get infected with the coronavirus at night, at entertainment and leisure venues and at weddings. In the Arab sector, we needed to impose a night curfew, not morning curfews. People who say that are demagogues. It is true you can get infected in the day, too. Night curfews exist around the world, it isn’t an Israeli invention. Night curfews are aimed at stopping weddings which can lead to 500 new infections a day.”

Turning to the upcoming holiday season, Gamzu said the Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot holidays this year would be unlike previous years.

“The holidays in Israel won’t be like normal holidays. We do want to hold off on gatherings and mass family meals. Coronavirus infects during gatherings with food. It is the most standard outbreak scenario.”

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