Israel has succeeded in stabilizing coronavirus spread: Prof. Grotto

Except for Bnei Brak, "we're in a relatively stable situation; in the stopping phase. Now we need to see how we get out of this." But we will still have to do tests and wear masks "for a long time."

Lockdown on some Jerusalem neighborhoods begins in effort to stop coronavirus spread, April 12, 2020 (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Lockdown on some Jerusalem neighborhoods begins in effort to stop coronavirus spread, April 12, 2020
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Israel has succeeded in stopping the spread of the coronavirus and now needs to figure out how to exit the lockdown, deputy director of the Health Ministry Prof. Itamar Grotto told Ynet on Sunday.
"I think we can say that we've pretty much succeeded in the stage of stopping the spread [of the coronavirus]," said Grotto. "Now it's important to see that we aren't missing it and therefore we need to first off continue the lockdown throughout Passover, and afterwards to think and discuss when we can start to change. There are essential questions concerning timing, the scope of the exit and the order of the exit: who exits first and who exits afterwards."
The Health Ministry official stressed that there could be results of the large outbreak in Bnei Brak that will only be seen in a few more days, and then there will be a rise in the number of deaths. "Except for this story, it can be said that we're in a relatively stable situation, and we're in the stopping phase. Now we need to see how we get out of this," said Grotto.
Concerning plans for "the day after" the lockdown ends, the professor explained that there are a few things that everyone agrees on: everyone will need to wear masks for a long time, testing will need to continue for a long time and safety measures in the public arena, including good hygiene and keeping distance from others, will need to be closely followed as well.
Grotto told Ynet he believes that a timetable needs to be formed detailing when restrictions will begin to be lifted, even though others in the Health Ministry believe it's too early to do so. "I think it's important that the goal be that we will have a plan with an organized timetable: that the public understands that there's an organized plan. Also, if there's a plan on Sunday, it will convey more confidence to the public and to businesses, of course," said Grotto.
The professor addressed the drop in the number of tests being conducted daily in the past few days, explaining that there were difficulties and "problems" in procuring materials for testing. Grotto added that testing is still progressing and more institutions are being added to increase testing capabilities.
Israel is also working to obtain serological tests, which measure the amount of antibodies or proteins present in the blood when the body is responding to a specific infection. These types of tests can help healthcare professionals identify people who have overcome an infection in the past and have developed an immune response, according to the US Food and Drug Administration. This could help determine who is no longer susceptible to infection and allow them to go back to work.
Grotto believes that there will be millions of serological tests, allowing for thousands to be conducted each day.
The professor added that widespread testing that had been planned for Bnei Brak had been cancelled because the situation there was already understood. "We want to check other places. Altogether, we know that in Bnei Brak there is a high infection rate. It's possible to say that for every sick person we've found, there's another sick person as well," said Grotto.
As of Sunday morning, 10,878 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed, 103 Israelis have died and 174 patients are in serious condition, including 123 requiring ventilation.