Health Min. Warns: Second Wave Will Be Bigger Than First

YERUSHALAYIM -
Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar Simantov. (Flash90)

Even as Israel moves ahead with plans to reopen the economy, Deputy Director-General of the Health Ministry Professor Itamar Grotto warned Thursday that a second wave of the novel coronavirus could be bigger than the first, and he added that the ministry is currently preparing for a second wave of infections.

Echoing what experts in other countries have said, Grotto said in an interview on Army Radio that “in all probability, there will be a second outbreak that will be even bigger than the first. Not just in other countries, but also here. We need to develop ways to stop this second outbreak [of the virus] from gathering force.”

He added that reopening the school system will “cost lives.”

In regard to opening the economy, Grotto said that “the full opening of the economy in another few weeks is unacceptable to [the Health Ministry].”

He warned that “if we return to normal too quickly, this could lead to thousands of patients being placed on ventilators,” which would overload the medical system.

Prof. Itamar Grotto at the inauguration ceremony of the Health Ministry office in Beit Shemesh, Nov. 2019. Also seen is Minister Rabbi Yaakov Litzman. (Revach Hafakot)

The first wave of the coronavirus in Israel has already overwhelmed hospitals.

Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar Simantov also said Wednesday that Israel has to prepare for a second wave of coronavirus in the winter.

Bar Simantov said in an interview with Channel 12, “We are trying to find the balance between the country’s economic needs and the needs of the people, but public health has to be protected. Further discussions regarding easing the regulations will be held tomorrow, but it has to be noted that we cannot say the danger is behind us. We can even say what the World Health Organization is saying, that the peak is ahead of us, and we have to view that with much consideration.”

He added that Israel is “in a respite that allows us to plan further actions on different planes. Economically, we need to improve the systems, and that is what we are working on right now, and we will address it knowing we are in danger of a second wave.” The director warned that “there are fears that we have to be prepared for a wave that could come in the winter and will be comprised of both coronavirus and the flu.”