Opinion: The pandemic is not behind us, no matter how much the government would like us to believe its end is nigh; in order to go back to our daily routine, government must boost our health and education systems ahead of future virus waves

For the first time in a long time, Sunday’s cabinet meeting did not open with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett talking about the dramatic spike in COVID-19 cases nationwide .

Bennett’s purposeful disregard for the subject was not an attempt to signal a return to normalcy, however.

נפתלי בנט
Prime Minister Naftali Bennet (Photo: GPO)


It was him, rather, burying his head in the sand, wishing the unabated tide of coronavirus infections, increase in seriously ill as well as the record number of hospitalizations, would all simply dissipate.

After two years of unceasing battle against the pathogen, the world has grown weary and tired of fighting the pandemic.

Unfortunately, people’s wishes of blessed normalcy don’t quite go hand in hand with the current global reality.

Despite the government’s repeated attempts to paint us a picture of a life alongside COVID, the situation we are all living in currently is anything but routine.

צוות מחלקת הקורונה בית חולים הלל יפה
Hillel Yaffe Medical Center’s COVID ward (Photo: Hillel Yaffe Medical Center)


Hundreds of thousands of verified new cases a day, an education system that offers our children little to no protection against the pathogen, populist and epidemiologically unreasonable decisions that allow, even encourage, mass infection.

All of this is hardly a sustainable life alongside the virus.

Even if widespread infection by the more contagious but less deadly Omicron variant may lead to pandemic’s endgame – as was hinted at by several World Health Organization officials – we are currently still in the midst of battling this virus.

בדיקות קורונה לילדים בירושלים
A child undergoing a COVID test in Jerusalem (Photo: AFP)


The celebrations describing COVID as another negligible seasonal virus may turn out to be premature and excessive.

The pathogen’s five and a half million victims worldwide can attest to that, as well as the millions of those who have recovered and were left disabled and scarred by the virus.

Let us remember that the Omicron variant has yet to say last word as well. Israel’s fifth infection wave is probably coming to an end, it’s only a matter of time – a few days, maybe a little longer – until the numbers of daily verified cases starts to drop, alongside the number of seriously ill patients and coronavirus-related deaths.

צוות מחלקת הקורונה בית חולים הדסה עין כרם
Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital’s COVID ward (Photo: Amit Shabi )


Until then, we are in for a rough ride. The ‘calming’ comparison between the fifth wave and the third wave – considered by many health experts to have been far worse due to the seemingly more aggressive Delta strain – is misleading.

Let us not forget that the government’s negligence has reached new heights during this wave, while the quality of medical care has taken a serious blow in almost every medical institution in the country.

We all long to return to a life without masks, to a life where we can safely send our kids to school, to a life where we can visit our elderly parents without fear.

But this routine will only be possible when we stop fantasizing about the life we once had, and learn to adapt to the new reality thrusted upon us.

בדיקות במקום בידודים - תלמידי בית ספר יסודי בגבעת עדה
Children in class amid the fifth wave (Photo: Elad Gershgoren)


We must understand that wearing a mask, maintaining social distance, and getting COVID vaccines are all necessities. The government, meanwhile, must take responsibility and prepare for the next infection wave.

This includes providing hospitals and HMOs with the necessary resources needed to contend with an influx of patients, making the necessary adjustments to the education system – including the implementation of a hybrid studies system – as well as coming up with an effective way to protect the county’s most vulnerable populations.

To best the pandemic, to return to routine, to get our lives back, we must learn from the past, and not simply bury our heads in the sand.

As reported by Ynetnews