The public confusion about COVID-19 and its wider effect

NEW YORK CITY Mayor Bill de Blasio with his wife, Chirlane McCray, in September 2019. (photo credit: JEFFERSON SIEGEL/REUTERS)
NEW YORK CITY Mayor Bill de Blasio with his wife, Chirlane McCray, in September 2019.
‘The world is in a new and dangerous phase.... The [corona]virus is still spreading fast. It is still deadly and most people are susceptible. We call on all countries and all people to exercise extreme vigilance.”
This was issued by the World Health Organization, warning of a second phase. Its Expert Committee is composed of 13 doctors and pharmacologists drawn from Pakistan, the United States, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Argentina, Morocco, Tanzania, Ghana, Luxembourg, Sri Lanka, South Africa and Thailand. The committee is augmented by four temporary advisers from India, Switzerland, UK and China.
On the other hand, there are many experts who freely offer their opinions, often differing with one another. Some believe in the herd system that allows a large part of the younger population to be infected and produce antibodies, which should then greatly reduce and eventually eliminate the virus.
Then there is the view of former Israeli Health Ministry director-general Yoram Lass, who has stated that the coronavirus pandemic is “dead,” that the virus has been essentially eliminated by antibodies developed by people infected during the first wave. This was the system employed in Sweden and has now been disproved, in light of the number of fatalities disproportionate to the rest of Europe.
Yet Dr. Lass wrote to one of his successors at the ministry, claiming that more than one million Israelis have already been infected with the coronavirus, have developed antibodies, and that this has effectively killed off COVID-19.
Lass criticized the ministry’s method of testing, which he said has led to a large number of false positives. Its method of testing does not distinguish between active cases of the coronavirus and residual traces of infections that have already passed, and that the so-called second wave largely reflects inactive cases of the virus that cannot infect others.
Dr. Asher Salmon of the ministry agreed that hysteria does not help, but neither does complacency, and that comments by Lass could be misunderstood by the public and endanger public health, as some forms of the coronavirus are a very serious disease.
The director-general of the Health Ministry, Prof. Hezi Levi, is willing to discuss his handling of the epidemic with his critics, but he apparently discounts the theory of Lass to such an extent that he will not sit down with him.
The publication of conflicting theories leaves the public further confused about the efficacy of wearing masks and practicing social distancing. Additionally, this is compounded by changing instructions about closures and openings of different parts of the country.
I do not believe that it is possible to confine a whole population group to its closed area. Any determined individual could “escape.” Only by very strict precautionary measures, communicated in clear and simple language applied to the whole country, for so long as the virus is active or until an effective vaccine is found, can we contain COVID-19 from spreading.
There must, of course, also be stringent border controls, including preliminary tests, even at the inconvenience of arriving passengers. Such tests would reduce the quarantine period to seven days. Departing passengers should be required to produce a certificate of a recent negative test.
It should be noted that South Korea introduced what was considered one of the largest and best organized epidemic control programs in the world, along with Taiwan, Vietnam and Singapore.
Different measures, avoiding further lockdowns, have been taken by them to screen the mass population for the virus and to isolate any infected people, as well as to trace and quarantine those who came in contact with them. The rapid and extensive tests, taken by South Korea, have been judged successful in limiting the spread of the outbreak without using the drastic measure of quarantining entire areas.
I SHALL now digress in order to say a word about the antics of Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose domain, New York City, with its 8.3 million inhabitants, has so far suffered from nearly 22,000 corona fatalities.
Instead of taking serious action to minimize the spread of the virus in his city, he concentrates his attention on the anarchist cancel culture mobs, who are determined to destroy New York. The wanton and spiteful destruction of monuments to wipe out the memory of American history, of which many of the perpetrators seem ignorant, appears to be tacitly supported by Democrat de Blasio, who is scheming to invent ways to try to provoke President Donald Trump.
He now intends to paint the words “Black Lives Matter” in large yellow letters on the roadway of Fifth Avenue, in front of Trump Tower. This is a childish and futile act that will achieve nothing, as the president would certainly not dispute that statement, because he believes that all lives matter.
How does such an expense help the city?
Mayor de Blasio is married to Chirlane McCray, a black lady of Barbadian and St. Lucian descent, who has been described as de Blasio’s “closest adviser.” She chairs the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City.
It is ironic that she looks on while the city’s reputation is fast sinking as a result of the current mob rule and steep rise in lawlessness and gun crime. Dozens of police officers are lining up to file their retirement papers, while the city is spiraling out of control.
De Blasio’s second and final term of office ends in November 2021. Republicans believe that events in the city will bring about a Republican mayor who will put an end to the Wild West atmosphere, restore law and order and the reputation of New York.