It is too early to rule out pandemic

Long before anyone even dreamed of vaccines, Israel emerged from their first lock to fight the pandemic of coronavirus with two new daily cases for every 1 million citizens and an R number of 0.5 reflecting the average spread from one to another.

A reckless decision to reopen the economy despite warnings from health professionals, coupled with remorseful behavior from some business owners, religious organizations and others, came to a close.

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תיש בחסידות גור

Members of the Hassidic community hold a large gathering in Jerusalem at the Purim holidays in February

The country came out of that with 75 new daily cases for every 1 million people and an R number as high as 1.7, still no vaccines in sight.

It would be wise for the Israelis to remember these facts, especially when some officials extend “apologies” to the Haredi community for demanding strict restrictions during Purim holidays at the end of February.

The relatively low morbidity after Purim should not be noted. We should look at how low it could be, if health rules over Purim were maintained and not spread across many regions of Israeli society.

Israelis paid dearly for cutting loose and carelessly celebrating the holidays with secular street parties and religious gatherings.

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מסיבה בשוק הפשפשיםמסיבה בשוק הפשפשים

Israelis hold Purim street party in Jaffa flea market in violation of health rules

(Photo: Itay Blumenthal)

For even though most adults have been vaccinated at least once, there are more than 1,000 new cases of COVID-19 every day.

There are also nearly 600 patients in hospital in critical condition, about a third of them in critical condition.

Israel should wait before marking the end of the pandemic and certainly not lift further restrictions before Easter, which begins next week.

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מתחפשים במאה שערים בירושליםמתחפשים במאה שערים בירושלים

Residents of Haredi neighborhood in Jerusalem defy health rules during Purim time in February

(Photo: AFP)

If we wait just a few more weeks before we throw a warning to the wind, we may see the real potential of vaccines to free us from the virus.

We should wait until we see less than 500 new cases per day and very few patients with serious illness.

Israel has been marking the end of the pandemic twice in the past year. This wonder has cost a life and ruined a living.

Why would we repeat the same mistakes now, when we are so close to real winning?