Health Ministry DG Calls for Restrictions as Morbidity Refuses to Ebb

YERUSHALAYIM -
Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital team members wearing safety gear in the coronavirus ward, Yerushalayim. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Health Ministry Director-General Prof. Nachman Ash called on Thursday for the government to impose more stringent restrictions on public gatherings as coronavirus morbidity and hospitalizations remained high.

“I would downsize big gatherings to a point where only 400 people are allowed indoors and 500 outdoors,” he said.

Ash called on ministers to convene the Coronavirus Cabinet, which has not met in nearly two weeks, to discuss the issue, adding that the pandemic in Israel is not on a downward trajectory.

“[The rising morbidity] is mainly among unvaccinated [patients] who develop severe symptoms,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Health Ministry reported Thursday morning that 5,921 Israelis tested positive for coronavirus out of 106,913 tests carried out on Wednesday, putting the country’s infection rate at 5.64%.

723 patients were hospitalized in serious condition, including 197 patients who were connected to ventilators.

Israel’s death toll since the start of the pandemic stood at 7,592.

Asked whether the government is ignoring the ongoing high morbidity rate, Ash said that he does not think the issue is being overlooked, adding that many steps are being taken with the aim of keeping the economy and schools open.

During a meeting Wednesday ahead of the restart of the school year next week following the Yom Tov season, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that Israeli children must not have their school days cut in any way, “lest we raise a generation of zombies.”

The top Health Ministry official also noted that the persistent rise in severe virus cases is stretching the healthcare system’s resources thin.

“There is a limit to what the teams can do, we are standing on the precipice,” he said. “We are still able to treat everyone, but if the numbers keep climbing, we are going to need to make some difficult decisions. Most of the severely ill are unvaccinated, they are inundating hospitals, it is important to get inoculated.”