Photo Credit: David Cohen/Flash90
Israel's Coronavirus Czar Prof. Nachman Ash (archive).

Corona Czar Professor Nachman Ash told 103FM on Sunday morning—ahead of the cabinet meeting at 1 PM—his view regarding the upcoming Purim holiday, which traditionally features big celebrations: “I’m anxious. We saw how Chanukah contributed to the outbreak of the third wave. We should rejoice on Purim, but very carefully. ”

Ash explained that in his opinion the key to beating the pandemic is through information and not enforcement: “The price we paid is still before our eyes. The leaders of Haredi society need to understand that Purim should not be celebrated [with big crowds], because the cost will be heavy.”

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According to Ash, the possibility of a lockdown on Purim exists, “but I don’t think it’s necessary to get into such a situation. I don’t want to go there.”

The corona czar also referred to the state of vaccinations, saying, “Those who received one dose should not be considered protected.” He added: “Our parameter for reopening the economy is the number of vaccinated with a second dose. When we reach 3 million next week, we will be able to reopen more widely.”

In light of the decline in morbidity data in recent days, Sunday’s corona cabinet meeting is expected to decide on further steps to open up the economy. But it is still unclear whether the coronavirus-related meeting will take place. The regular weekly cabinet meeting has been canceled due to disputes between the Likud and Blue&White.

The health ministry wants to postpone the opening of commerce by ten days, while Blue&White demand starting a staggered reopening immediately.

Prof. Ash told Reshet Bet radio on Sunday that the vaccination of children age 6 and up will begin in a few months. “We always have to wait for the results of the experiment and see how effective the vaccine was,” he said, stressing that a pediatric vaccine would get Israeli society its herd immunity. Israeli minors constitute about 30% of the population

On Saturday night, the health ministry announced it wants the malls to operate only for customers who received both doses of the vaccine. Last week, the government said that gyms, hotels, and leisure, culture, and sports establishments would only admit Israelis with the “green passport” that indicates having received both doses. But the health ministry estimates that advancing this policy would raise legal difficulties. The reason is that the malls include essential businesses, access to which cannot be denied to unvaccinated individuals. This means that instead of a green policy, Israel’s malls will maintain the “purple tag” policy, allowing everyone in while limiting the number of concurrent customers in each business.

Prof. Ash said that on Shabbat there were 1,869 verified Corona patients, down from 2,600 compared to the previous Shabbat. The rate of positive tests was 7.8%, while on the previous Shabbat it was 9%.

Prof. Ash reiterated that “our position is that the economy should be opened up gradually and carefully, both because of the lesson from the previous reopening and because of the current data. If we reopen without being careful we will reach another outbreak. The date when we want to reopen in the second phase is next week, February 23, at which date we will open up commerce and the education system.”

Prof. Ash added that “we are making great efforts to continue the pace of vaccinations we started. There are various methods to encourage vaccinations, including dealing with fake news. We need to run forward with the vaccinations, and we are running, but also not to make mistakes that will bring us closer to another lockdown.”

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David writes news at JewishPress.com.
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