Coronavirus Commissioner: Next Two Weeks Critical in Battle

Coronavirus commissioner Professor Salman Zarka. (David Cohen/Flash90)

Israel is at war with COVID-19 and the next two weeks will be critical in terms of future policy and a potential lockdown, coronavirus commissioner Professor Salman Zarka said Wednesday during a Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee hearing on restrictions imposed on public life in an effort to quell the recent outbreak.

Israel was able to bring morbidity to single-digit levels in the spring, lifting nearly all restrictions on public life. However, the arrival of the highly aggressive Delta variant caused morbidity to spike in recent weeks.

“Morbidity is rising daily; I believe we are at war,” Zarka said. “Looking at the data from this morning, we can’t question the situation. This ‘maybe’ means Israeli lives.”

Commenting on the possibility that a lockdown – Israel’s fourth – would be imposed during the chagim, the coronavirus commissioner said that the three weeks until Rosh Hashanah “are a critical time. G-d forbid, the virus will get the better of us and we will have to impose a lockdown like in the first and second waves, including not being able to go more than 100 meters from our homes,” Zarka said.

He further noted that he believes the current restrictions are insufficient, saying he would rather limit gatherings to 50 indoors and 100 outdoors.

On Wednesday, Prof. Zarka also presented the morbidity data in the chareidi cities: “In the last day, 12% of Israel’s morbidity is from the chareidi community. The infection rate in the chareidi  community is higher than in the Arab and general community. The data tells the story.”

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