The Government’s quarantine of the entire population of Israel is an issue that must be fully investigated by impartial scientists, epidemiologists, health practitioners, and business leaders. The effects of the quarantine order severely harmed a wide range of issues including the health, education and the future economic life in Israel for many years to come. We must know without a doubt that our sacrifices were absolutely necessary.
Israelis have had our most precious individual freedoms of association and movement restricted by the government’s use of armed police and army soldiers to enforce citizens to remain isolated at home. We were told by the government that to not isolate ourselves in our living space would cause large numbers of deaths. As of May 2020, Israel reported 279 deaths, 16,712 +14 cases, and 14,085 recovered. Data from the Health Ministry show that every day 22 people here die from smoking-related illnesses such as lung cancer, throat cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart attacks, strokes and even sudden death. The World Health Organization-WHO statistics from 2019 also state that smoking-related illnesses kill about eight million smokers annually, while about a million nonsmokers die worldwide from secondhand smoke. Israel reported 349 people were killed in 314 accidents during the year 2019, a rise in fatalities. Former Health Ministry chief Prof. Yoram Lass says governments can’t halt viruses and the lock down will kill more people from depression than the virus. He says “every fall, in the State of Israel, 126 people die of Influenza, and in the US 40,000 people, in Italy 17,000 and that’s the price we are prepared to pay to live normal lives.”
According to the Israel Center for Disease Control(ICDC),the normal hospital bed occupancy rates in Israel during the past years and during the winter months for pneumonia and influenza is at 100% . Why are we normally at the brink of not having enough hospital beds, hospital space and medical personnel? We all know that the our health system is not able to provide appointments in a reasonable amount of time, and that the wealthy are paying specialist physicians for their services outside of our health care system. G-d forbid a “normal”war, instead of a biological one. How would we function to save the wounded and bury the dead! Therefore, with the pandemic of a new respiratory virus approaching, the government and the healthcare services’ response was to shock us with fear, hysteria and panic. They ordered a broad quarantine of the entire population without regard to the most vulnerable age related populations and geographical centers of the disease. They prevented anyone from having social contacts without exceptions, except for certain politicians that were immune to the lock down order.
It has been a free fall into a pit of ignorance. Businesses have been dealt a financial collapse while the government bureaucrats never missed a paycheck. The unemployed people are rising to a level never seen before. The collateral damage to our citizens with other healthcare problems such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer are set on the side while the priority is the Chinese Corona Virus. The general population wants to go to the hospital for their routine diagnostic medical testing but fear that they will become infected with Corona virus and die. The facts are buried in the details which were not made transparent by our Government. The fear of dying from the Corona virus became the priority over the dying from the flu, drug overdoses, car accidents and the usual diabetes, heart disease and cancer. The truth of the death certificates, certifying the cause of death as Corona virus, must be examined for accuracy and reasonableness for the diagnosis. We must know the true impact of the government’s lock down on the death rate of non-Corona virus deaths.
The published epidemiology facts for the Corona virus fatality rates (CFRs) from China and Italy were utilized as the basis of the CFRs in Israel by Alex Weinreb and Dov Chernichovsky of the Taub Center for Social Policy in Israel (March 2020). It is an examination of the known data and a model of action for Israel. They stated, “because we don’t have reliable test kits, the morbidity rate of the Corona virus is not able to be accurately determined for the numbers of people and ages that have actually been infected. “Therefore, the percentage of the CFRs is highly unreliable.”In addition, they reported that Israel’s health fund system prefers that the sick go to the hospital rather than to community based treatment centers. The low cost of the hospital care is an additional economic incentive for the health fund services. Acute care in the hospitals before the Corona virus was at 100% during the last flu season. All of us at one time or another have seen patients lining the hallways of the emergency room and the wards until a bed would be available. The highly contagious Corona virus has exacerbated the normal shortage of medical personnel. We have potentially increased the indirect mortality rate of the Corona virus because medical personnel and hospital facilities are overwhelmed and are not able to provide patients with other medical problems, such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer with life saving care.
They continued, ”the horizontal strategy of restricting the movement and commerce of the entire population, without consideration of varying risks for severe infection, is too blunt, too paralyzing — and too haunting.”
If the entire society is ordered by the government to a lock down , enforced by police and army personnel, the opportunity for the virus to spread is stopped. However, such a behavior is not acceptable unless the data and the models of the Corona virus pandemic are accurate. The citizens who have their civil liberties taken away, and their businesses destroyed must see for themselves with full transparency, the facts that were used by the government when they acted to “save us” from dying from the Corona virus. It is now clear that the virus was not as deadly (mortality rate under 300) to everyone as we were told. The facts were known in March that the elderly were the most susceptible to die and especially those that were in close contact in nursing homes. There are approximately 90,000 senior citizens living in nursing homes and assisted living facilities in Israel Their Association reported a need of one million shekels before the Corona virus struck for nurses and equipment for the care of seniors living in their facilities. Our elderly citizens have reportedly suffered 30% of the total reported deaths from Corona virus. The health ministry had mapped the areas in Israel that had concentrations of the disease. It was not all over the country and yet the entire country was shut down. And now in May, they are releasing the public from confinement which will again subject the citizens to infection from the Corona virus. Where is the data for this new model of what the government has mandated? What were the science based reasons to close the, beaches, the parks, and the lower schools? Why were certain big retail businesses permitted to open and not smaller ones.
Politicians have attached the word “war” to the pandemic attack by the Chinese Corona Virus upon the populations of the world. Sadly they ignored all of the issues of this war and focused entirely on the potential dead and not the actual wounded. The generals operating against this war, gave up the battle and locked themselves and their army in their homes. As a result we lost our lives not in the fight but in the retreat! Weinreb and Chernikovsky reported” it is important to note that even though Corona virus mortality estimates have been prepared in some other countries, they are not always made public.”It is now clear that a percentage of diagnosed cases compared to deaths is not conclusive because testing of the actual number of people infected is estimated to be a much higher number than reported. If the government had used the best models and data of the most susceptible populations, such as the elderly and nursing home residents, it would have reduced the short term Corona virus mortality rate and reduced the collateral mortality of the usually sick population. The total population that has died directly and indirectly from the Corona Virus has yet to be determined. The inadequate medical resources that were exposed by this pandemic must be accountable for the overall mortality rates in Israel.
While our politicians were fighting between each other for control of the government, the working class of Israel were suffering emotional distress and financial collapse from the lock down of their liberties.
My purpose in writing this article is to go beyond the 3 televisions stations in Israel who provide a daily menu of the numbers of Corona virus sick and dead. The unknown cases of people with the virus who were mildly sick is a very important fact when deciding to quarantine the entire population of Israel. It can be argued that the under 300 deaths up to May 2020 from the Corona virus in Israel would have been much higher, however, the indirect deaths that occurred in the usual medical population and the catastrophic economic collapse to businesses needs to be part of any judgments made related to the handling of this disease in Israel. When will the same aggressive government policies to make us healthier and safer, be used to stop the sale of cigarettes, improve the air, water and food pollution and lower the mortality rate for driving a car in Israel?
We can only hope that the next time we are told by the government to lock down and stop working that they present us with data and models of action based upon a broad range of transparent facts including medical, social and economic consequences that we can believe and execute in good faith.