Maccabi, one of Israel’s four public health organizations, published on Tuesday its recommendations for preparing the country for a potential second wave of coronavirus, warning that in the coming winter, Israel must be ready to conduct mass tests of hundreds of thousands of people.
According to the plan, a second wave of coronavirus could come with the annual flu season, leading many to fear they have COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, as they have similar symptoms.
“Two hundred thousand people will have coronavirus symptoms because of the flu, and will run to health clinics, requiring us to do tens of thousands of coronavirus tests a day. Everyone will be afraid of the coronavirus and we will need to double the tests, to protect the elderly, and work differently in the health management organizations,” wrote Maccabi CEO Ran Saar.
The Maccabi document didn’t rule out scenarios in which up to 4,000 people could be diagnosed with coronavirus each week, with another 200,000 reporting breathing difficulties. In the worst case, there could be 25,000 diagnosed each week, and 250,000 people with breathing difficulties.
Therefore, Israel needs to be ready to conduct 30,000 virus tests a day, whereas in the current outbreak, virus tests peaked at roughly 12,000 tests a day, Maccabi said, calling for preparation of a massive testing capacity, including tests done on wastewater for early identification of virus hotspots. Also, a national purchasing system should be set up to obtain drugs and protective equipment.
Maccabi recommended that as much as possible, treatment of virus patients should be done at home rather than in hospitals.
After calculating that Israel’s lockdown measures this year had cost the economy $285 million a day, Maccabi suggested that the same sum be allocated by the government to enable Israel’s health services to prepare for a potential second outbreak.