Senior Israeli health officials on Tuesday lambasted the Coronavirus Cabinet’s decision overnight to impose nightly curfews across Israel starting Wednesday evening.
With the government expected to deliberate on the plan Tuesday, prominent health officials voiced their opposition to the plan.
Prof. Hagai Levine, an epidemiologist from Hebrew University and Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem and the chief of Israel’s doctors’ union, excoriated the Coronavirus Cabinet for green lighting the plan Monday night, telling Channel 13 Tuesday morning that the curfew plan marks a “new low” in the government’s handling of the crisis.
Prof. Levine accused the government of sending mixed messages by simultaneously warning of a massive third wave of the virus and imposing nightly curfews, while also reopening shopping centers.
“We’ve sunk to a new low. This decision is impossible to understand. It doesn’t make any sense to have night curfews and reopen malls.”
“If they say that this is a catastrophe and there’s nothing else to do, so don’t open the malls. Why do something that is not helpful, that is damaging, and also spreads the coronavirus. The consensus among experts is that this decision doesn’t make sense and that it undermines the public’s faith.”
Levine went on to criticize the National Security Council’s coronavirus response committee.
“The NSC put together a panel of ‘experts’ which didn’t include any doctors, epidemiologists, or women; and they’re still working on solutions that not only are incorrect, but also will impede the efforts against the coronavirus and even cause serious health damage, damage to the economy, and to society.”
“I don’t understand why the government is going this route. It is unfathomable. It’s like they’re doing it on purpose. They manage to surprise us again each time.”
Senior Health Ministry officials also ripped the curfew plan, telling Channel 13 that “It won’t help reduce the infection coefficient to below 1, which is what is needed.”
“Our recommendation is to adopt a plan for tightening restrictions,” the officials said, referring to proposals by the ministry to close schools and businesses in areas with high infection rates.
Prof. Eran Segal of the Weizmann Institute also criticized the curfew plan, tweeting: “Nightly curfews won’t help much.”
“At best, it will reduce the infection coefficient R by 0.05. But realistically it will do even less. Mainly what it will do is further undermine the public’s faith, which is already low.”
“Less than 10% of [infection] contacts happen at night. So that very greatest reduction you could have is R 0.1, and that would require completely ending all contact, including unauthorized weddings and Hanukkah celebrations, which would just move from the night to the daytime hours.”
“Instead of a nightly curfews, they need to crackdown on weddings and mass gatherings being held in violation of the rules – rules which haven’t been enforced for a while now.”