Ash to ‘Post’: An Israeli coronavirus spike could easily turn gray

Israel could “easily” go into three locks before the vaccines become effective, said coronavirus commissioner. Nachman Ash told the Jerusalem Post Tuesday when the Ministry of Health reported more than 2,000 cases in one day.

Ash said he would push for tension restrictions as soon as possible to avoid that closure. He referred last week to “tension restrictions” to the coronavirus cabinet but was rejected by ministers, who chose instead to open malls and museums.

Since then, disease has been on the rise, rising to 2,284 new cases on Monday – the highest number in two months. About 3.2% of the 72,667 people screened were positive.

683 patients were receiving hospital treatment at the time of the media, including 378 who were in critical condition on Tuesday, including 98 who were admitted. The death toll hit 3,014, ten died Tuesday.

The numbers represent a 28% increase in new cases from the previous week, and an 11% increase in the number of people in hospital.

“In the last two days, the number of patients admitted to the underground coronavirus ward at Rambam Medical Center has gone up,” the hospital said Tuesday morning in a statement. “After weeks of stagnation and declining patient numbers, we have now returned to 50 sick people.”

Similarly, at the Herzog Medical Center in Jerusalem, where 70% of coronavirus patients in the country are treated, the number has reached 78, including 42 in critical condition. The youngest patient is 49 years old.

The virus is spreading across the country, once again introducing in ultra-direct neighborhoods. Bnei Brak saw 146 new cases over the last day, for example, and about 6% of those screened there were positive. Similarly, several ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods in Jerusalem and the Modi’in Illit turned orange.

There were 41 red seats in Israel and 48 oranges, which together make up about 60% of all diseases.

Last Thursday, the government decided not to lift restrictions over the Hanukkah holidays. However, the cabinet agreed that if at any time the number of coronavirus cases exceeds 2,500 per day or reaches a reproductive (R) level of 1.32 – every three patients will suffer four more – a period of “strict ban” will apply.

The idea was then to last three weeks. If the breeding rate fell to one, or lower, before the end of that period, the normal constraints would be reset. If the R level rose or remained the same, the country would enter a lockout.

“If those efforts fail and we see another rise in morbidity, we need to lock down completely again,” Ash said.

During the tense period, shops, malls and markets would be closed. Gatherings would be limited to 10 people in enclosed spaces and 20 in open spaces. The education system would remain open in green and yellow cities, but would close in orange and red.

Although the country has not yet reached the number of daily infections 2,500, a report by the Coronavirus National Intelligence and Information Center said Tuesday that Israel is likely to hit that number by the end of the month.

Ash said the effect is that even when the country starts vaccinating, it is possible for morbidity to continue to rise “because morbidity is rising rapidly and vaccination has a slow effect. “

He said strict restrictions at this stage could last at least five weeks, and possibly until the vaccines start to take effect, which could be as late as March or April.

“This feels [coronavirus] going to end anytime now. People have turned their heads that they don’t have to hold on much longer so they have rested, ”Ash told the Post. “The risk is less now than it was two weeks ago when we didn’t know we would have vaccines.” And to the vaccines [arrive and work] the risk is just as high.

“From what I see, what I hear in the field” people don’t stick to the rules. “I urge everyone to stop being complacent.”

But Ash also admits that part of the reason for being somber is government zigzagging, which has led to a lack of public confidence in issuing rules.

“What happened around Hanukkah was very sad,” he said, referring to the government’s decision to curfew a nightmare against the views of health experts. Then, at the warning of the attorney general, the government returned to new restrictions and eventually abandoned the status quo.

He told the Post that ministers listen to him – but only sometimes.

“I went to the cabinet and asked them to tighten up and they opened malls, so I can’t say they listened to me,” he said. we fight for it. Sometimes we are more successful and sometimes less. “

Meanwhile, vaccines are expected to reach another 300,000 Pfizer on Wednesday, Channel 12 reported. With this new shipment, there will be 600,000 doses in the country.

“I am alone, but I will continue to work to introduce the vaccines – they are coming in the millions,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday in a video message.

Last week, the CEO of Teva SLE Logistics said that about four million Pfizer vaccines and another three million Moderna vaccines were expected at its facility by January 1st.

On Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration announced that the Moderna vaccine was highly effective. Israel signed in with Moderna in June and is expected to be among the first to receive his vaccine.

But even as the vaccines come, the question remains: How many Israelis will take them?

According to a study conducted by the University of Haifa, with Israel considering starting their COVID-19 vaccination campaign next week, less than a fifth of the Israeli population is willing to take a new vaccine immediately. The study, which was led by Prof. Haifa University. Manfred Green also found that 7.7% of Jewish men, 29.4% of Arab men, 17.2% of Jewish women, and 41.2% of Arab women would refuse the vaccine in any case.

Ash said there is concern that people will not get the vaccine, a challenge the country has seen before, such as in 2013-2014 when Israel needed to be protected against polio.

“There are some who will be embarrassed and our aim is to tell them that the risk of the virus outweighs the risk of the vaccine – much greater,” Ash told the Post.

He said the key is to get medical workers vaccinated.

“This is the challenge,” he said. “If only 50% of them get the vaccine the public will not be vaccinated either … We do a lot to believe it.”

At the same time, some ministers are pushing for priority to be given to teachers and the defense center – anyone who comes into contact with large sections of the public. Ash said that if enough vaccines reach Israel, the vaccine will be open almost immediately to anyone who wants it.

He said it is logical to vaccinate the elderly and those most at risk of developing severe coronavirus cases, because then, the country should not have to lock up again, even if which herd protection – which it estimates will occur when around 60% of the population has been vaccinated or contracted the virus – has not yet been achieved.

Hospitals are ready to start, they said. The Ministry of Health explained that the largest hospitals will vaccinate staff first, followed by medium and small ones.

Health money could start vaccination on Sunday, too, reports said. However, as Ash told the Post, the vaccines have not yet received the approval of the Ministry of Health.

“It should happen in the coming days,” he said. “The plan is to be ready by Sunday – but it’s hard to say for sure.”

Those who receive the vaccine will receive a green passport, details of which are still being worked out, Ash said. But the passports are expected to allow people to eat at restaurants, for example, attend cultural events and travel more cheaply in Israel and, possibly, abroad.

Ash said the passports will work in conjunction with PCR tests for those who are unable to get the vaccine, such as children and pregnant women. He said it was likely that people would still need to wear masks and take other special measures so that people could get enough vaccines and know how effective they were.

“Our lives will not be the same immediately – it may not be until the end of next year,” he told the Post. And even then, he warned, the virus will still be here and will expect to break out now and then.

Is Ash happy that he took on the role of coronavirus commissioner?

“When they came to me, I knew it was very hard and it would be complicated. I can say now that it’s even harder than I thought, ”he said. “But I felt like I couldn’t say no.” We are at a great war and someone has to fight it. It was like doing the right thing. I have no regrets. “

And how long will he stay at work?

Unlike Dr. Ronni Gamzu, said he did not set a date for leaving. He is due to return to teaching at Ariel University in March. “But if I have to, I can stay longer,” he said. “I hope it’s not needed.”