Health Minister Yuli Edelstein has clarified that there is no real possibility of achieving a significant reduction in new COVID-19 cases without continuing the lockdown for another week.
"We are seeing a reduction in new cases, but we have not yet reached a point where the lockdown can be ended. We could have spared the public all these worries if they had accepted the original proposal of a two-week lockdown, instead of arguing for just ten days. We need to extend the lockdown again," Edelstein said in an interview with Arutz Sheva.
He does not want the government even to discuss extending the lockdown but easing restrictions. "There are two proposals on the table: either extend the lockdown fully or open it all up. I do not intend to cooperate with all sorts of political games. All attempts to 'contribute' to shaping the decision have been counterproductive ".
The Minister of Health was asked why last April the first lockdown led to a reduction in new cases, but now a two-week closure cannot do the same.
"There is no difference between the closure in April and today in terms of government decisions. There is a difference in terms of public cooperation and too many violations of regulations. I do not point an accusing finger at the majority of the public because the majority abide by the regulations, but unfortunately, too many people go out for no reason, meet with others and hold gatherings, not to mention horrific phenomena like the mass funeral that took place today or a party with patients in attendance, or a club in Rishon Lezion where hundreds of people went dancing without masks."
"There are many clever individuals in the political system or the media that tell me that lockdown is not the right solution. Our models of what would have happened if we had not initiated lockdown estimate that we would have between 20,000 and 30,000 verified patients every day and another 2,000 dead. I stand behind these numbers and my call to extend the lockdown "
“Another difference is the presence of mutations - the British mutation is more contagious and reaches younger ages and the result is evident in the epidemiological data."
"We have had an amazing vaccination campaign. More than three million people have been given the first dose, and more than a third have been given a second dose.”
Edelstein talked about the right way to get out of the current lockdown when it ends. "We hope to see a trend of reduced infections. I do not think we will be in an ideal situation, but a decrease in the number of patients in serious condition would be welcome - the congestion in hospitals is unbearable. We may be able to reopen things like hotels or cultural events.”
Regarding the rapidly approaching holiday of Purim, though, Edelstein had a direct approach. “Anyone who wishes to spend Passover with their family will undertake to spend Purim alone.”