Gamzu: Public nonchalance, government mismanagement reason for lockdown

The corona commissioner also accepted a portion of the blame himself, claiming that he understands the gravity of the decisions he makes and that they can affect lives as well as livelihoods.

Coronavirus czar Prof. Ronni Gamzu  (photo credit: TAL SHAHAR/POOL)
Coronavirus czar Prof. Ronni Gamzu
(photo credit: TAL SHAHAR/POOL)
Israel's coronavirus czar Prof. Ronni Gamzu said that Israel is in the midst of a second lockdown due to the "nonchalant" attitude of the public as well as government "mismanagement" of the ongoing health crisis, in an interview with the Associated Press.
Gamzu also accepted a portion of the blame himself, noting that he understands the gravity of his position and what the consequences of his decisions entail – affecting lives as well as livelihoods.
“There are many uncertainties,” he told AP. “And you have to make decisions that affect people’s life, people’s habits, social life and living – wages and earnings, businesses. Any kind of decision that you make, it’s not [only] a medical decision: It’s a social economic decision.”
The Health Ministry reported Saturday that 8,315 new cases were diagnosed the day before, out of 62,035 people screened for coronavirus, which is a 13.4% positive rate. Some 728 people were in serious condition, including 200 on ventilators – a peak. The death toll rose to 1,441.
Even though Israel's infection rate is one of the highest in the world per capita, Gamzu is still optimistic, understanding that there is still a long, tough battle ahead for the Jewish state – drawing his positive attitude from his bout with cancer.
“I had my personal crisis with the eye cancer. It was a hard time, really – a crisis, a personal one. You see death almost coming,” he said. “But going through a personal experience like I went through, it gives you proportion. And you can handle such hardships and criticism.”
While Gamzu is hopeful Israel can turn itself around, he still admits to underestimating the difficulty of the position he assumed as the coronavirus czar. Whereas initially he believed that he would be a good fit for the position given the role, with the added uncertainty and lack of knowledge with regard to the novel coronavirus, he began to realize he was dealing with a different animal.
However, the tough czar has met push-back from government ministers left and right with clear concise reasoning throughout his short tenure in the position. Whether it be the reopening of schools or prayers in large capsules, Gamzu has stuck to his guns and his strategy, even if the public or the government did not want to fall in line.
He has maintained his criticism not only of the government's mishandling, but also of the public's attitude. As the public became more comfortable, returning to normalcy, the virus tip-toed back into the limelight as people began to ignore social distancing protocol. Even Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said after the first wave that Israelis should go out and "have fun."
“I believe that he like many others didn’t realize that getting out of the lockdown must be very careful and gradual,” said Gamzu. “No real professional within the ministry or within the government raised the red flag. Sometimes a prime minister needs that.”
Gamzu expects the second lockdown to bring down infection rates to a manageable and "comfortable" level within the next four weeks.
“It’s hard work,” Gamzu said. “Do not declare victory. Do not declare failure. Go ahead and continue fighting.”