Opinion: There is no strategic scheme in place to fight the spread of the virus and mass testing must be conducted to separate the sick from the well and prevent more infection, but the Israeli authorities are taking one hesitant step at a time

Regimes that operate without parliamentary oversight tend to assault democratic institutions and preside over societies plagued by poverty, oppression and a shorter life expectancy.

The most dangerous ailment to society is the lack of democracy. This must be said.

טיהור בבת ים
Disinfecting city streets in Bat Yam (Photo: Moti Kimchi)


The coronavirus pandemic could perhaps have been prevented had there been a free press in China. The doctor who discovered the virus would have been able to get the word out to the public.

But Wuhan’s mayor was more interested in breaking a world record for the largest number of people at one meal, and the doctor who was trying to sound the alarm was taken away by the police.

Four months on we are faced with thousands of deaths, millions of unemployed and this is just the beginning.

Under the guise of the coronavirus crisis, the Knesset must not be allowed to close its doors and the live televised broadcasts cannot replace oversight of this government’s activities.

הקמה של מחלקה חדשה לטיפול בחולי קורונה בבית חולים איכילוב בתל אביב
Israeli hospitals prepare for coronavirus cases (Photo: Shaul Golan)


The principles of democracy must be observed and with full transparency.

What Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein did on Wednesday, when he prevented the Knesset plenum from voting on key committees is abhorrent.

In times of crisis, democracy must be protected and assaults on it in the dead of night, just because someone does not like the majority decision, must not be allowed to take place.

There must be public trust in government at the time of a pandemic. And the pandemic is here.
Make no mistake. The number of confirmed new cases keeps increasing and will continue to do so irrespective of closures and quarantines.

Most of the country is already on lock down with schools suspended and parents out of work. The promises of government aid will also expire, and mass bankruptcies and economic ruin are a given.

Health Ministry officials acted correctly when they imposed restrictions early and bought us some time, but to what end? The equipment needed for mass testing was not procured and a strategic plan to fight the outbreak was never put into place.

And while Benjamin Netanyahu expresses support for the Health Ministry measures, it appears health officials decided that mass testing was unnecessary and did not plan for it.

This is an evolving problem and Israel has no plan to tackle it. Taiwan had a plan, as did South Korea and China. Even the United Kingdom had a plan – albeit a terrible and dangerous one.

Israel is taking steps, but it has no master plan in place at all.

If Israelis were to be put on a three-week lock down, what then? There would likely be many new infections from family members, as most of the coronavirus spread has been within families.

A simple calculation of the progression of the disease – anywhere from 28 to 52 days of illness with 3-5 days of gestation, would mean closure would have to be complete for two months.

There will not be a full lock down for that long, so as soon as people are allowed out, more will be infected, and the spread of the virus will continue while people become more stressed and have fewer means.

פינוי חולים למלון דן פנורמה בתל אביב
Coronavirus cases moved to dedicated hotel facilities (Photo: Moti Kimchi)


The head of the Health Ministry MosheBar-Siman-Tov said the full lock-down of Israelis in their homes will allow the medical establishment time to learn more about the coronavirus and prepare better for its impact, but that is an unacceptable statement.

The ministry is using the equivalent of a nuclear weapon on the population by enforcing a lock down without a strategic plan.

Health officials must learn on the fly or, as one WHO executive said, “If you need to be right before you move you will never win. Perfection is the enemy of the good when it comes to emergency management.”

The Health Ministry wants to stand still. It has been blocking university and HMO labs from testing samples for coronavirus for weeks. Thought their testing may not be perfect and may miss some asymptomatic carriers, they are still all we have.

In Asia, people’s temperatures are taken every time they enter a building. Is that a perfect system? No, and not all fever is a result of coronavirus, but you do what you can with what you have.

South Korea tested all 200,000 members of a religious sect infected by the virus. Those found to have been infected were isolated and treated. The WHO recommends this course of action to all governments.
There are no shortcuts. The aim is to reach a point where there are no new cases. This is the way to proceed.

Only mass testing has proven effective. China will probably see a second wave of the outbreak, but their strategic plan is in place and anyone infected will be quickly located and isolated from the healthy population.

We need those plans in place. China, Taiwan, and South Korea are back at work despite 100 new cases diagnosed each day. We have to get to the point this country can also get back to work.

Israel is different from Italy, France, and Spain. We are a small, agile country with an ability to move quickly. Our emergency systems have barely been put to work on the crisis. Instead of fighting the virus we are still trying to decide our next move.

חיטוי תחנת רכבת משה דיין בראשון לציון
A bus stop disinfected near Tel Aviv (Photo: Avi Moalem)


The Health Ministry may have a brilliant and inexpensive plan drawn up. People there are working around the clock and trying their best.

If such a plan does exist, it must be presented to decision-makers immediately so that they can determine its value while understanding there is no perfect solution.

If a plan is in place, the public will at least know what is required. They will know that after two or three weeks, things could begin to get back to normal. They will get on board.

Full closure on the entire population without mass screening for the virus is not the solution.

As reported by Ynetnews