Hospital Chief Says System Won’t Be Overwhelmed

YERUSHALAYIM -
israel coronavirus
Prof. Jonathan Halevy, co-director general of Yerushalayim’s Shaare Tzedek Medical Center. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

As daily Health Ministry updates of record-breaking new coronavirus cases and widespread expert criticism of the government’s handling of it have the whole country on edge, a senior health official sought to soothe nerves on Thursday, saying things aren’t so bad.

“I don’t think we’ll be overwhelmed. We are far from our reserve,” Prof. Jonathan Halevy, co-director general of Yerushalayim’s Shaare Tzedek Medical Center, said regarding the capacity of the country’s health system. “I’m confident about the next few months. I’m also optimistic about the winter.”

“People should not be too worried, but they have to keep social distancing,” Halevy told The Times of Israel on Thursday.

Fears of the catastrophic economic effects of another general lockdown are overblown, he believes.

“If they increase [the] number of tests, increase epidemiological investigations, and we discover contacts of verified patients earlier, I believe we’ll hear good news quite soon, by which I mean the steep increase we’re seeing now will start to moderate,” he said.

Halevy was also upbeat about recovery prospects for those stricken with COVID-19, based on the experience at Shaarei Tzedek.

“All in all, the severity of the cases is less than in the previous wave, and it’s probably a combination of various things — a younger average age, which is why there are less severe cases, treatment, maybe the weather, and maybe the virus has become less virulent,” he said, though cautioning that he was not basing the seasonal factor on formal research.

His staff have found that routine use of steroids and less use of ventilators have yielded better results than previously.