A top Israeli hospital official has expressed the hope that the government will not impose a new lockdown, arguing that fears over the recent string of COVID outbreaks have been exaggerated.
Prof. Jonathan Halevy, president and former director-general of the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, spoke with Radio 103FM Friday morning about the spread of the Indian or “Delta” variant of the coronavirus, and recent proclamations by government officials regarding the possibility of a new lockdown.
“I really hope that we don’t get to another lockdown,” Halevy said, noting that while there has been a significant spike in the number of new COVID cases, the number of seriously ill patients has remained low.
“The question is how to look at the number of confirmed cases. The question is whether this number tells us the full story. The number of seriously ill patients should be more of a guide for us than the number of new cases.”
While expressing opposition to new lockdowns, Halevy said he backed "moderate steps" to curb the new outbreaks, but hinted that recent government declarations may be sowing “panic.”
“I’m not panicking, and [panic] isn’t what should be deciding what steps we take. I don’t understand what’s behind Bennett’s announcement that we’re headed towards a lockdown.
“I’m in favor of these moderate steps, and if I was director-general of the Health Ministry, I would also demand new restrictions. But there are also debates within the Health Ministry. We need to keep a close watch on the numbers, as we can’t let the number of seriously ill patients threaten the healthcare system.
“There is an exaggerated panic, but we also shouldn’t become complacent. If the public shows confidence in the regulations and adheres to social distancing rules, we will be able to overcome this wave.”