Opinion: As confident as I am in the healthcare system’s ability to cope with the coronavirus epidemic, reopening the country too quickly could see the number of coronavirus cases spiral again throughout the country

Disinfecting the coronavirus ward at Sourasky Medical Center
Disinfecting the coronavirus ward at Sourasky Medical Center

I am no politician nor am I a doom-laden pundit of the coronavirus crisis (in fact, I have even been called a soothing presence).

Nor was I an advocate of the increasingly tight restrictions or the closing of the economy, even in the assessment period of the outbreak.

I did not subscribe to the assumption thousands would have to be treated in makeshift wards in parking lots, since I believed that while there would be a tsunami of coronavirus patients, it would be a small wave not a tidal wave.

I helped inform the decision-makers by reassuring them that there was no need for angst over a shortage of hospital beds and ventilators. Concentrate on the economy and society, I said, and find a balance between the two.

The government’s decision to partially reopen the economy is the right choice, even though we are setting a world record in doing so despite the daily number of new cases.

בית ספר יסודי ב רמת גן
An empty classroom at a school in Ramat Gan during the coronavirus crisis (Photo: AP)


This is the right move for Israel given the number of recovering patients exceeding the the number of newly infected, the low number of patients (just 3 percent) who require respiratory aid, control of the fatality rate among the elderly, the situation in the hospitals and public awareness.

All of the above mean we can reopen the economy. But why the haste?

מחסומים של ההסגר בירושלים
A police roadblock at the entrance to Jerusalem (Photo: Eli Mandelbaum)


The process of resuming “normal life” as we exit the coronavirus crisis must be much more managed, more organized and more careful.

While Israel has approximately 8,000 active coronavirus patients, it is clear there are thousands more who bear no symptoms.

They could be our friends, they could be of any age. They may feel and look fine but they could be in our families, schools, shops or buses.

They are the most contagious among us if we don’t adhere to the regulations – and sometimes even if we do.

The coronavirus searches silently for the nooks and crannies through which it can infect, using seemingly healthy people to do so.

Israel does need to reopen its businesses, education system, cultural centers and economy. But it must only do so through a staggered process with careful preparations for each step.

We need comprehensive regulations that cover every detail. This means making adjustments in real time, based on the facts on the ground, overseeing businesses and operations and enforcing those rules.

 A man walks with his dog through the shuttered Carmel market in Tel Aviv
A man walks with his dog through the shuttered Carmel market in Tel Aviv (Photo: EPA)

This needs to be a smart process that does not bow to irrelevant pressures and which is reviewed according to professional standards every two weeks.

The public is picking up signals that the crisis has passed. But to my regret, that is far from being the case.

People are lowering their face masks with wink, violating the 2-meter distance requirements with a wave of the hand, gathering in groups without even noticing and forgetting the importance of hygiene.

Meanwhile, the pathogen is cheering from the sidelines, gleeful at at the ample opportunities it has to to make a viral comeback.

So please, leave us with our mostly empty coronavirus wards and let us focus on the patients who do need us.

To the government of Israel, I say manage the reopening with care, slowly and carefully. Plan every detail.

To the public, I say your masks on, keep at least two meters away from one another, maintain hygiene and keep to the rules.

This is the only way we can continue with our lives without a second outbreak.

As reported by Ynetnews