Photo Credit: Tomer Neuberg / TPS
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Infections from the COVID-19 novel coronavirus in Israel are rising at a rate faster than health officials expected, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in Hebrew-language remarks broadcast Saturday night from the government’s special emergency coronavirus situation room.


Following is a full transcript of the prime minister’s remarks.

“We are acting on both the national and international levels. In the past 48 hours, we have seen a rise in the rate of infection. A 38-year old patient is fighting for his life.

The rate of infection cannot be estimated precisely but it is, apparently, higher than we figured.

In the past 48 hours, I have spoken with world leaders and I initiated a conference call that we will hold this week in order to see how countries will be able to help each other. I must say that there has been great response.

We have certain advantages and disadvantages in raw materials for drugs, but they all responded that they know the things that are coming and I put them on the table:

First of all, this is a global pandemic, whether the CDC calls it such or nor, it is a matter of days or hours.

It is doubtful whether there has been a similar pandemic in the last 100 years.

It seems that the rate of infection is greater than we figured and for the moment there is no vaccine. The assumption that the virus will disappear or evaporate in hot weather is unproven. At the moment, this has no basis that we can build on.

The virus is currently spreading to Africa. There is no vaccine and anti-viral drugs are ineffective.

Economies are starting to be hurt. Governments are ordering their gates closed. This is important for the supply of products for all economies.

Nobody knows how the pandemic will end; therefore, I intend to submit five steps to the international meeting next week.

It must be understood that the pandemic is not afflicting children or young people, thank G-d; there has not been one instance that we know of.

We must disinfect public installations. This virus is sensitive to bleach and we must act in an orderly way to disinfect railway stations, bus stations, etc. To this end, over the vacation period, which may be extended, I will mobilize young people, both in schools and in youth movements, in a very meticulous way, to help with the disinfection. I will also ask the IDF to take care of certain installations.

Second, I intend to enlist the air force and make certain that we have the essential supply for Israel.

I said that the supply chain has been interrupted for essential things as well, including drugs and raw materials for drugs.

Israel is in almost the best situation among countries of the world precisely because of the strict policy we initiated. Therefore, we are in control of the situation, thanks to the mobilization of aviation forces and we intend to maintain this.

Third, I seek to open a line of credit in order to provide a response for businesses and companies that will feel the pressure.

Fourth, we will mobilize the best minds in Israel in order to develop a broad test in order to ensure an industrial testing ability that will separate between ill and healthy people.

We will continue to watch over the Israeli economy. Without this, things would bring about a two-fold – economic and industrial – collapse. It is within our ability to change this.

We will also make use of my ties with the leaders of certain countries. We will help them and they will help us. There are things that it is possible to give.

I will do what is necessary to safeguard the health of the citizens of Israel. I ask you to strictly follow instructions. Do not shake hands. Avoid touching your face and if you do, use a tissue. These are things that will stop, reduce or slow the spread of the pandemic.

Look after the instructions and we will look after you. We will work together responsibly and calmly while upholding our promises. With G-d’s help, we will overcome the crisis together.”


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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.