Israeli Expert Panel Says COVID Still Spreading, Government Policy 'Not Reasonable'

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Medical staff at the coronavirus ward, Beilinson Hospital, Rabin Medical Center, Petah Tikva.
Medical staff at the coronavirus ward, Beilinson Hospital, Rabin Medical Center, Petah Tikva.Credit: Moti Milrod
Ido Efrati
Ido Efrati

An advisory panel to Israel's coronavirus cabinet is demanding the government impose more restrictions on the public, arguing the cabinet's policy to assess the disease’s severity only by the number of serious patients is dangerous.

Following a discussion earlier this week, the experts said that “the ongoing spread of the disease over the past month has exacted a heavy price on people’s lives,” according to the meeting's minutes.

They demanded the government adopt a new policy and impose more restrictions, such as limiting the number of event participants with proof of vaccination to 300 in closed spaces.

The minutes said that despite the hope that the third vaccination drive would halt the disease’s spread, it is "not possible and not reasonable" for the government to continue on its present course. The experts said the infection chain hasn’t halted and the strategies the government have used so far “are not applicable at a stage in which 8,000-10,000 people are infected daily.”

The minutes say it would be "implausible to continue to rely on the hope that the COVID-19 spread will go down despite the return to school, in order to avoid imposing even minimal gathering restrictions."

The advisory panel does not have authority to impose restrictions, only to make recommendations to Israel's COVID cabinet. 

On Thursday, the number of those hospitalized in serious condition remained stable with 713 people, including 202 on ventilators – the highest figure since mid-March.

According to Health Ministry figures, 7,592 people have died of the coronavirus in Israel since the outbreak of the pandemic.

Also Thursday, the Education Ministry instructed all directors and principals of educational institutions to refuse entry to teaching staff who do not present proof of immunity or a negative test.

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