Israel's Coronaviurs Czar Aims to Rein in Virus Without Lockdown by September

Prof. Ronni Gamzu says it is critical to 'lower the incidence of the illness before mid-October, because that will give us a clear chance to cope with the challenge of winter, and give medical staff breathing room'

Ido Efrati
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Prof. Ronni Gamzu gives a presentation at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, April 20, 2020.
Prof. Ronni Gamzu gives a presentation at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, April 20, 2020.Credit: Moti Milrod
Ido Efrati

Coronavirus point man Prof. Ronni Gamzu said Thursday that he wants to decrease incidence of the virus before the school year opens on September 1, but continues to oppose doing so through another nationwide lockdown.

“Instead of a lockdown from above, I want more organization from below,” Gamzu said at a press conference. “Anyone who wants to get to 300 to 400 patients a day by September 1 may need to impose a lockdown, but we want to provide another chance, because it’s clear to cabinet ministers that a lockdown carries a big price.”

Even Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “isn’t rushing into a lockdown,” he added, because “he understands the significance” of doing so.

In cities defined as “red” or “orange,” meaning they have a high incidence of illness, “the local authorities should decide” what to do, Gamzu said. “I want more discipline in contact tracing, many more tests. A red or orange city that ignores testing is creating an increase in the chain of infection for itself down the road.”

The criteria for color-coding cities include the number of patients, number of tests, incidence of the virus in the last few days and the rate at which this incidence is growing, he added.

A report by a task force monitoring the hospitals found that all are currently capable of coping with the growing patient load, he said. “But it’s very important that we lower the incidence of the illness before we reach mid-October, because that will give us a clear chance to cope with the challenge of winter, and we need to give the medical staff breathing room,” he added.

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