Gamzu: Coronavirus infection rates in red cities among highest in world

“About a month ago, I defined an outline,” he stressed. “Holidays are a time of many gatherings. There will be eating and therefore there is a danger of increased infection.”

Bnei Brak street scene, April 3 (photo credit: TOMER NEUBERG/FLASH90)
Bnei Brak street scene, April 3
(photo credit: TOMER NEUBERG/FLASH90)
Coronavirus commissioner Prof. Ronni Gamzu addressed the public on Tuesday, hours before a night curfew was enacted in 40 “red cities” across the country.
"The morbidity rate in the red cities is among the highest in the world,” he said. "We need to stop gatherings, especially in red cities... What we are doing is to protect the residents and reduce the morbidity.”
The commissioner, who spoke during his weekly Facebook broadcast, said that he apologized “wholeheartedly, to all the cities that are currently in the process of being restricted. I apologize to the residents and mayors. The coronavirus sometimes requires us to take unpleasant steps to maintain health. That is the only thing that guides me."
He spoke about the disagreements with and attacks on him by certain ministers and other members of the Parliament and government, as well as about the fact that not all of his recommendations have been accepted.
"It's true that there are things I have offered and not been accepted, but for these things I will not resign,” he said. "It's not right to leave with the slamming of a door."
However, he also removed himself from the government’s decisions: “In case someone is confused, the people fighting the battle against coronavirus are in the government.
“You bring recommendations to the government and the government has to decide on them. They need to evaluate them - and their own considerations are not epidemiological,” he said. “In the end of the day, I try to convince the government on behalf of the citizens. Sometimes it does not work and the government needs to take responsibility.
“They think about the whole picture,” he added, “and it is up to them - and so I accept their decisions.”
He said if it was only up to him “the decisions would be different.”
However, he clarified: "I do no just face criticism and attacks... I feel I have full backing."
Regarding the Cabinet's decision-making: "There are red lines of decisions that I cannot tolerate. Here we talked about 40 cities, I proposed a set of restrictions and part of the set was accepted. We need to move on and keep fighting instead of creating a split."
Earlier in the day, Gamzu had visited Rambam Medical Center, where a third coronavirus ward was being opened. He said that in such a situation it is “impossible not to take steps to reduce infection.
“For six or seven weeks, I have not taken such steps,” he continued. “But when there is so much disease, I must recommend to the government to take steps. I'm in this role to stop the disease. It is difficult, but the war on coronavirus is taking difficult steps.”
On Monday, there were 3,425 people diagnosed with the novel coronavirus, the Health Ministry reported on Tuesday. Of the sick, 467 are in serious condition, including 134 who are intubated. Some 941 were hospitalized.
He reminded that in the last two months the country has been building infrastructure to manage the coronavirus crisis in all places - infrastructure that could help Israel manage the coronavirus for the next several months that the world is living with the virus.
“It will take us a little long to become fully operational and well-oiled,” he said,” but we will give the citizens a system to control the coronavirus rather than it controlling us.”
He said that by November 1, Israel will screen as many as 100,000 people per day.
But he said that before then, there may need to be more difficult decisions made - especially over the High Holy Days.
“About a month ago, I defined an outline,” he stressed. “Holidays are a time of many gatherings. There will be eating and therefore there is a danger of increased infection.”
He said that he will present the government with his recommendations regarding the holidays on Thursday.