Israel passes controversial new lockdown policy to combat pandemics
The past few weeks have been very profitable and historical for Israel. Two central Arab states agreed to establish diplomatic ties with Israel after decades of conflict. Amid these significant diplomatic achievements, Israel has also witnessed a surge in COVID-19 cases.
Why there’s a new Covid-19 policy in Israel
As the number of infections grew, Israel became the first state to re-impose lockdown. The new three weeks extended restrictions came hours before the start of Jewish New Year. It is worth mentioning that Israel currently has one of the highest numbers of COVID-19 infected citizens.
His increase in the COVID-19 infection rate started in the past few weeks. The government officials also failed in controlling the growing numbers. Officials have even apologized to the public for their failure to provide an effective COVID-19 response. The average of the past few weeks reached 6,000 people getting affected in one day.
What the data says
According to the data, Israel has witnessed 1,169 deaths, and 177,000 confirmed COVID-19 infections.
Israeli President, Reuven Rivlin, has said that this is a second chance to improve the mistakes. And if the public denied the restriction, Israel might not get the third one.
The public has mostly rejected the new restriction imposed by the Israeli government. According to the local media, many citizens have taken to the streets to protest against lockdown re-imposition. The Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, has warned that he will not hesitate to impose the lockdown. Moreover, protests could not force him to change his decision.
Netanyahu has acknowledged that these new restrictions will disrupt the festivities of the New Year. But he considers it to be a necessary step. Lockdown measures will also affect prayers in synagogues, which is the main reason for public anger.
Apart from the festivities, the most affected factor will be the economy. The Israeli economy has already faced a severe blow with the first lockdown and may not survive the second one. According to the finance minister of Israel, this measure will cost the country $1.9 billion. The government is making efforts to balance the economic needs with health needs.
The specific restrictions put in place
New restrictions call for ten people indoors. And 20 in outdoor gatherings.
Schools and shopping centers will also be closed under the new measures.
Government offices and businesses may stay open but may not provide any in-person services. Additionally, supermarkets and pharmacies will be assisting the public.
Israel was initially praised for its affective COVID-19 response. Since the country tightly controlled the situation. It was no small feat, especially when many other European nations struggled. Israel was doing well until complications arose as the government lifted its initial restrictions too soon.
When the WHO was warning everyone in Europe about the “Second Wave”
The World Health Organization has warned Europe about another pandemic round after the region reports a marked increase in the positive cases in recent days.
In a press conference on Thursday, Hans Kluge, WHO’s regional director for the EU, said, “Weekly cases had now exceeded those reported when the pandemic first peaked in Europe in March.” Kluge continued that the ‘situation is dire’ as “last week, the region’s weekly tally exceeded 300,000 patients.”
Europe is on the list of the top pandemic affected areas and sustained severe damages from the virus. Since the start of 2020, it has reported millions of cases and thousands of deaths. However, after the quarantine and lockdown implementations, the region’s condition started improving, and life began to return to normal.
“In the spring and early summer, we were able to see the impact of strict lockdown measures. Our efforts, our sacrifices, paid off. In June, cases hit an all-time low,” said Kluge.
But, the prevailing situation for the last 14 days is alarming and a ‘wake-up call for everyone. The health experts fear the emergence of a second wave as half of the EU countries reports more than a 10 percent increase in the positive cases.
“More than half of European countries have reported a greater-than-10% increase in cases in the past two weeks. Of those, seven countries have seen newly reported cases increase more than two-fold in the same period,” Kluge added.
Reduction in the quarantine period could be the reason behind this increase. Many EU countries recently contracted the quarantine duration from 14 days to 7 days, saying that many people didn’t self-isolate for that period anyway.
However, Katie Smallwood, WHO Europe’s senior health emergency officer, said that the quarantine period was calculated based on the virus’ incubation period and transmission patterns and could only be altered on scientific approval.
“We would really re-emphasize that our position is that a 14-day quarantine is important for patients that have been exposed to the virus. We would only revise that based on a change in our understanding of the science, and so far, that’s not the case,” said Katie.
Kluge has appealed to the nations to take the situation seriously. He cited the damages that the pandemic has caused in the EU in the form of 4.9 million cases, 226,000 deaths, and lockdowns, and asked the people to be careful to contain the threat.
“This pandemic has taken so much from us. And this tells only part of the story.”