Deputy Health Minister: Further Easing of Restrictions Could Bring Third Lockdown

YERUSHALAYIM -
Police and soldiers at a temporary checkpoint in Yerushalayim, on September 22, during a nationwide lockdown. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Deputy Health Minister Yoav Kisch (Likud) on Sunday opposed lifting further coronavirus restrictions, claiming this could lead to a third national lockdown.

“We are at a point today that very much depends on our actions and decisions and will determine whether we’ll have to lock down for the third time or not,” Kish told Yediot.

“The drop in infections has stopped, and we’re even seeing an increase. Maybe it’s because we do more testing … lifting further restrictions would only increase the infection rate.

“If we’re responsible, open only according to a set plan with testing or do not open places we are afraid of, then we can avoid a lockdown. If we open more and more places because of pressure … we could very well go back into lockdown.”

Kisch was hopeful that new, more efficient testing methods would allow schools to remain open even if located within coronavirus hotspots.

One method allows health workers to test entire groups using one testing kit. Since the entire class will have to go into quarantine in case one of the students is found to be positive, it is expected to save countless testing kits and funds while streamlining the testing process.

“Right now, we’re doing 70,000 tests a day or a little over, and that’s a huge number. We haven’t been able to maximize it and it’s challenging to get people tested. Once infections go down, naturally, fewer people go and get tested, so we take the battle to other places to find hidden morbidity.”

Kisch also said he believed that vaccines will become available to the Israeli public starting from January-February of 2021 and said that the ministry is currently preparing the logistics for its distribution.