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May 19, 2020 11:04 am

Israeli Experts: Right Time to Reopen Economy, but Second Coronavirus Outbreak Still Possible

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

People visit a beach along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, in Tel Aviv, Israel, May 17, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Amir Cohen.

As Israel continues to gradually restart its economy following a steep drop in coronavirus infections, two experts say that, while reopening is prudent, a second outbreak is still possible.

Prof. Zion Hagay — chairman of the Israel Medical Association — told Israeli news site N12, “The exit strategy was definitely done at the right time, and perhaps could have come a little sooner.”

Nonetheless, he said, “I’m afraid that all the proper steps are not being taken.”

Hagay pointed in particular to what he said was poor government communication and a corresponding lack of public confidence in information about COVID-19.

“The virus is still alive and well, and we don’t know when the next wave will be, but expect that there will be one,” he noted.

Prof. Yehuda Adler — director of the Talpiot Medical Leadership Program at the Chaim Sheba Medical Center — agreed that the exit strategy was “necessary.”

He also described the lockdown policies “a result of unnecessary hysteria” that caused serious damage to Israel’s economy, which he described as “abysmal.”

Nonetheless, Adler said the use of masks, social distancing, personal hygiene and bans on mass gatherings must be continued to prevent a second outbreak.

Unfortunately, he said, people were beginning to openly violate these regulations, because “the government’s stuttering has caused public distrust in the system.”

“Now the economy needs to be brought back to full functioning as soon as possible, under the restrictions on distance and hygiene, because the economic crisis is currently bigger than the health crisis,” he added.

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