The delay in the coronavirus cabinet in deciding on further restrictions and a possible full lockdown on Sunday and Monday, is like everything else, entangled in the political standoff between Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz.
Deputy Health Minister Yoav Kisch (Likud) told Army Radio on Monday that “the prime minister wanted to make a decision in the coronavirus cabinet [in favor of] a lockdown. Gantz claimed this isn’t the right time and is blocking the decision.”
The matter, which had ended inconclusively after several hours of debate in the coronavirus cabinet on Sunday, was removed from the agenda on Monday.
Meanwhile, the number of daily coronavirus infections has exceeded 3,000 since last week, prompting Health Ministry officials to insist on stringent measures.
“The coronavirus cabinet must act. The price of any delay is human lives. I hope Blue and White comes to its senses,” said Kisch.
Senior Health Ministry official Sharon Alroy-Pries told Army Radio that she does not understand what the delay is for. “The numbers are heading to the same place as the second wave. There’s no reason to watch the numbers go up and wait. Let’s not wait another two weeks. This is costing us lives.”
“In the coronavirus cabinet they say ‘let’s wait,’ but I have a hard time understanding why we need to wait. I don’t see the vaccinations having an effect in the next few weeks. It will take two months,” The Times of Israel quoted her as saying.
The Health Ministry announced Monday that 3,046 new cases of coronavirus had been diagnosed the previous day, the highest total in months. The last time the country saw such a number was in September.
The number of active cases in the country stood at 26,275, with 463 in serious condition, 115 of them on ventilators, according to the Ministry. Another 184 are in moderate condition, with the rest showing mild or no symptoms.
The death toll since the outbreak in March stands at 3,111. A recent study found that over 90% of those fatalities had preexisting conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart illness, and many were elderly.
According to the ministry, 4.4 percent of tests returned positive on Sunday, when 69,000 were administered. That figure was also higher than the percentage in recent weeks. Last week, the positivity rate hovered around 3%.
A number of public officials were required to enter quarantine on Monday.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz was told to isolatee after meeting Blue and White MK Hila Shay-Vazan, who was later diagnosed with COVID-19, on Thursday.
Blue and White MK Eitan Ginzburg was advised to quarantine because he had also met with Shay-Vazan last week.
Likud MK David Bitan remains in hospital, seriously ill with COVID-19.
Updated Monday, December 21, 2020 at 4:03 pm .