Top health official warns Israel has ‘lost control’ of virus as infections soar
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Top health official warns Israel has ‘lost control’ of virus as infections soar

'If we do not block the spread of the virus we will have neither health nor an economy', PM Benjamin Netanyahu warned after comments by leading adviser on public health

Israelis wearing protective masks due to the COVID-19 pandemic stand in silence in Jerusalem in April, 2020.  Photo by: JINIPIX
Israelis wearing protective masks due to the COVID-19 pandemic stand in silence in Jerusalem in April, 2020. Photo by: JINIPIX

One of Israel’s leading public health officials has warned that the country has “lost control” of the coronavirus after infection rates soared and politicians tightened lockdown measures.

As Israel’s death-toll hit 331 with daily new infections now topping 800, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued an ominous warning, saying: “If we do not block the spread of the virus we will have neither health nor an economy.”

Israel eased its lockdown in early May but the number testing positive for Covid-19 greatly increased in June and Deputy Health Minister Yoav Kisch this week warned that the country’s second wave was now worse than the first.

Addressing a parliamentary committee, he said there could easily be up to 400 seriously ill patients by the end of July, while Netanyahu’s advisor Professor Eli Wachsman said that the coronavirus was overwhelming the country.

“We’ve lost control of this virus,” Wachsman told Israel’s Channel 12. “We have no information on 90 percent of those who have been infected.”

The Health Ministry said 11,700 Israelis currently had coronavirus, of which 86 patients were seriously ill and 27 were on ventilators.

Cabinet ministers are considering reducing the number of diners in restaurants and on beaches, while the Knesset’s Coronavirus Committee has already imposed new limits on the number of people attending simchas (celebrations).

Public health expert Prof Doron Gazit from Hebrew University said the “steady rise in the number of sick has turned into a veritable deluge,” adding: “It is urgent to immediately reduce infection… We are in the 90th minute.”

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