Health Official: Forecasts Show Coronavirus Fight Could Last Through 2021

A closed classroom in a school in Tzfas, Friday. (David Cohen/Flash90)

The strictures put into place in recent days on social interaction are likely just the beginning, Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar Simantov said in an interview Sunday. “We are facing a long period of battling coronavirus,” he told Reshet Bet Sunday. “The latest models show that we will be fighting this through 2021.”

On Motzoei Shabbos, the government placed severe restrictions on social interaction, ordering the closure of public leisure spaces, from malls to theaters to fitness centers and swimming pools. Supermarkets remain open, as do places of business – but offices cannot host more than ten people in an enclosed space at a time. As a result, many workers were told to stay home Sunday, conducting their work online. Bar Simantov said Sunday that those strictures could get even more severe.

While he did not describe what further restrictions could be put into place, “we can say that there will be further changes in our lifestyles, based on the idea that we need to foster social distancing between people in order to prevent infection. We are going to have to do a lot more work from home, and conduct a lot more of our interactions remotely. Relationships will become more digital and less personal,” he said.

“Our main objective now is to track down people infected with the virus as quickly as possible, and limit their contact with others. The problem is that many people may be sick and not even realize it, and as a result they are infecting others.” Those who display signs of infection – congested lungs, coughing, and fever – should remain at home and in quarantine, even if they have not been diagnosed with coronavirus, and remain there until at least two days after the fever breaks, he added.