Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appealed to Israelis — and scolded them — in another televised briefing Thursday night, less than 24 hours before the second full nationwide coronavirus lockdown was to start.
“We are in a national emergency,” Netanyahu underlined. “These difficult lockdown rules are essential in order to save lives. We are at war — the Corona War. The entire world is in the throes of this pandemic and the plague is also expected, unfortunately, to take an additional heavy toll in human lives. I am sorry but this is the truth,” he said. “We must show mutual responsibility. We can do it. The State of Israel has gone through many terrible times. This, too, will pass and we will come out of it stronger.”
The prime minister went on to say the second wave of the pandemic is now hitting “many countries around the world,” some having already imposed targeted lockdown measures “in areas larger than the State of Israel,” he said pointedly.
“Only if we work together can we defeat the virus — and we will defeat it,” he said. But he warned that it is important to pay attention to the Health Ministry guidelines, and slammed those who are not taking the need for restrictions seriously — including other politicians — quoting research studies warning of some 20 percent of those who recover from the virus, including the young, who suffer lifelong chronic complications as a result of COVID-19.
“An entire generation, hundreds of thousands, who will carry scars for the rest of their lives,” he lamented. “Neurological problems. Physical problems. Orthopedic issues. Cardiological problems. Pulmonology problems. . . Wake up! Enough is enough. We’re in a new reality. We must take action and we must do it now,” he warned. “A tight lockdown, specifically during the holidays … when there are five workdays and not more.”
Netanyahu also said he is working on advancing the rapid coronavirus testing for use in Israel, a test that produces results in minutes rather than hours. “This will very much help the economy and our routine lives,” he said.
“There is also a light at the end of the tunnel,” he went on to say, “because it’s obvious to me, there will be a vaccine. A vaccine is on its way to the world. And we are making sure that a vaccine is on its way to Israel.”
The prime minister defended his decision to oppose the recommendation of Coronavirus Commissioner Professor Roni Gamzu, who said a less stringent lockdown would also be acceptable. “I respect the opinions of the experts,” Netanyahu said, “but the citizens of Israel didn’t elect bureaucrats.”
The figures he quoted are indeed serious: a total of 59 Israelis have died from the virus within the past 24 hours — 41 lost their lives since the morning alone — bringing the national COVID-19 death toll to 1,376.
The Health Ministry confirmed 6,499 new coronavirus cases between Wednesday night and Thursday evening, bringing the total number of active cases to 59,842. Of those, 685 are in serious condition, 164 of them on ventilators and another 255 are in moderate condition, with the rest displaying mild or no symptoms.