As the coronavirus outbreak worsens, we need to be responsible

The new normal might be living with this virus and changing the way we humans have conducted our lives for the last 100 years.

A person wearing a protective suit and mask checks the temperature of people departing from the ferry port of Molo Beverello after Italy orders a countrywide lockdown to try and contain a coronavirus outbreak, in Naples, Italy, March 10, 2020 (photo credit: REUTERS/CIRO DE LUCA)
A person wearing a protective suit and mask checks the temperature of people departing from the ferry port of Molo Beverello after Italy orders a countrywide lockdown to try and contain a coronavirus outbreak, in Naples, Italy, March 10, 2020
(photo credit: REUTERS/CIRO DE LUCA)
Does the crisis spurred on by the novel coronavirus trump politics or does the political system continue as if its in a vacuum? Same about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s trial. Does it start on Tuesday as if he is not busy dealing with containing the virus and stopping it from spreading within Israel’s narrow borders, or does it get suspended to allow him and his cabinet to focus on saving lives?
These are just some of the questions that have come up as the number of people in Israel infected by the virus broke 160 over the weekend and amid predictions that it will reach the thousands in the coming weeks.
As Maayan Hoffman reported in Friday’s Jerusalem Post, the virus is not going to disappear anytime soon.
According to Daniel Grupel, the head of Infection Control Services at Assuta Ashdod Medical Center, COVID-19 is more contagious and more lethal than influenza, and should be distinguished from more commonly known coronaviruses that cause SARS and MERS.
If the virus does fizzle out in the hotter spring and summer months, it is “likely that it will become another seasonal virus we see coming and going. This coronavirus will stick around for the future.”
The new normal might be living with this virus and changing the way we humans have conducted our lives for the last 100 years. We will need to more hygienic, be more concerned for the climate and do more to protect the environment. The old, weak and frail will especially need protection from this virus and it will be a test of our society how we act and what we do.
But in the meantime, there is also a country that needs to run and a government that needs to be established. As mentioned here on Friday, now is the time for a national unity government. In 1967, ahead of the Six Day War, Levi Eshkol understood that bringing Menachem Begin into his government would ease the concern that Israel was about to be wiped out by its Arab neighbors.
Now is a similar moment in time and Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz need to set aside their political animosity and differences to forge a government that can properly confront the challenges Israel is facing – from a health system that could eventually collapse to an economy that could implode.
On Thursday night, Netanyahu invited Gantz to join him a emergency national unity government. It would, he said, be limited in time and would be just for the purpose of helping Israel overcome the crisis it faces due to the global spread of coronavirus.
Gantz responded that he was in favor but wants the government to include representatives of all parties in the Knesset, meaning also from the Joint List, comprised of Arab parties.
Netanyahu’s use of the stage meant to inform the public about guidelines during the coronavirus crisis was wrong. It politicized what is meant to be a platform about health and safety. But so was Gantz’s response. Demanding representation from all parties, including the Joint List, was a political move.
Now is not the time for any of this. Israel begins this week with unprecedented restrictions and measures meant to keep the people safe, healthy and alive. That has to the utmost objective. Unfortunately, there is no way to do that without paying an economic, social and political price – but they are all needed so Israel can try and prevent undergoing what is currently happening in places like Italy and Spain.
Grupel said last week if people in Israel follow the Health Ministry’s recommendations and stop going outside when they are symptomatic or when they are supposed to be in quarantine, the spread of the virus has the potential to remain relatively contained.
“If all of us are responsible, we will succeed in fighting the virus,” Grupel said.
If Gantz and Netanyahu are responsible, they too will understand their roles right now, set aside their differences and immediately – as early as this week – establish a national unity emergency government. If they do so, they will be able to pass the laws needed, approve a state budget and ensure that the country weathers this coronavirus storm to the best of its ability. History will not forgive them if they fail.


Tags Virus