Israel’s Defense Minister And Senior Health Officials Criticize Israel’s Sweeping Lockdown, Call For More Tests


JERUSALEM (VINnews) — Senior officials in Israel continue to criticize the Health Ministry’s policy of imposing sweeping isolation on the entire country while minimizing the importance of mass testing as a tool for locating and isolating the epicenters of COVID-19 in the country.

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On Sunday, Prof. Zeev Rothstein, the director-general of Hadassah, spoke at the Knesset’s Coronavirus committee and emphasized that the present policy of testing only those with symptoms but not their families or people close to them will not enable proper containment of the virus and will harm the long-term economic viability of Israel.

Rothstein said that he had conducted two experiments, one in which he tested 1,200 people who work in a government company, which like all others in Israel has been scaled back to 15% of its workers. The test showed that only one person tested positive for the virus and the rest were healthy. That one person was sent into isolation.

“This company should not be working at 15% but at 150%,” he said. “Why stop them? We need to produce national products. Without them, we will not be able to support the medical system. If we continue another month, there will be no money to reactivate the country’s economy.”

In a second experiment, Rothstein tested nearly 2,000 medical staff that work at Hadassah Hospital. He found that 30 people tested positive but were asymptomatic or had limited symptoms. These are people who are on the frontlines. He immediately put those who tested positive into isolation.By testing his staff, Rothstein said he can ensure that he keeps sick people home and healthy people at work.

Defense Minister Naftali Bennett also criticized the Ministry of Health’s decision to impose a nation-wide lockdown on Thursday, arguing that the shutdown of the country will lead to a devastating damage to Israel’s economy and demanding that his ministry be placed in charge of testing.

“The sweeping closure of Israel, which was very correct at the beginning, cannot continue to be the main tool over time, due to its devastating impact on businesses and jobs in Israel,” he said. “The Ministry of Health is rooted in an ideology that does not believe in the centrality of testing which is a tool for exiting this crisis.”

Bennett argued that Israelis must be able to return to work and that more COVID-19 checks and keeping some people in quarantine, such as the elderly, and allowing others to work would be more sensible.

Bennett also  warned that if testing levels, presently at some 7500 a day, do not increase, the country not only risks not being able to exit the crisis but that it risks a renewed outbreak of the epidemic.

“Without extensive, quick and accurate testing, we will have to continue the “hammer” approach that requires a sweeping closure on all Israeli citizens, instead of a “tweezers” policy that will allow the Israeli economy to open alongside local isolation of corona carriers or the closure of specific corona areas,” he added.

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