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Analysis

Israel And The Chinese Coronavirus: Do Or Die

Israel And The Chinese Coronavirus: Do Or Die
Image by Gady Munz Pikiwiki Israel

Israel has to get it right. A nation of more than 8 million people pales in population when compared to France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and of course the United States or China.

The Supreme Leader of Iran could get his evil wish of the end of Israel if this horror in the form of a virus were to spread through Israel without proper containment.

The Israelis showed in the several wars against the Palestinians and Arab nations that they had a superbly well-oiled military machine. They had to. Being as small as Israel is, the size of new Jersey, it must get it right every time with microscopic attention to detail.

That is why observing Israel and its response to the virus is clearly instructive.

So what did Israel do?

Israel closed off its borders to China in Mid-February. Only America and Donald Trump acted earlier to make that decision. When the virus spread to Europe and its porous border policies, Israel closed off its country to Europe. When Israelis came home from foreign travel, they were required to self-quarantine for 14 days.

In Israel, criminal prosecution would be carried out against those who did not comply. Thus, if students partied at Tel Aviv Beach after this policy was in place, these students would have experienced life behind bars. In Florida, there was no such sanction even when Governor DeSantis banned the partying on the beach late in March.

There is, of course, debate in Israel about this strict policy as there is elsewhere and here in the United States. But in the end, Israelis agree that public policy requires a strict policy. It will no doubt save lives and massive amounts of money.

We are now well aware that, although the fatality rate among young people is 0.2%, they can readily pass the virus to the more vulnerable in the Israeli population and markedly increase the death rates as a result.

This means that Israel will have perhaps several dozen cases each week instead of the potentially thousands with a lax policy. 

A key point is the discipline and coordination of the health care system in Israel. The HMOs, Ministry of Health and the major hospitals all coordinated their efforts quickly. Israel is used to crises in military action and this virus response is merely an extension of the thought process behind the discipline of the Israeli people in all areas. They are certainly able to cope with inconvenience as well as any nation on the planet.

The results have been excellent under the circumstances. A small percentage of the working population is quarantined. Preschool was left operating in an announcement by Netanyahu in mid-March. Passover travel was prohibited.

One element of the population creating discomfort in Israel is the ultra-Orthodox. Kanievsky, their 92-year-old leader in Bnai Brak, a suburb of Tel Aviv, told his followers to violate the stay-at-home policy. The result is more than a 40% infection rate in that community. Secular and ultra-Orthodox Jews are at each other with great tension. In fact, there are now calls for this ultra-Orthodox community to be sealed off so as to avoid further spread of the virus.

Now, Kanievsky has seen the light and ordered his followers to stay home.

Israel will get this right as they have done with their response to the Corona Virus. Perhaps Italy, Spain, France, Great Britain and Germany might have followed the Israel template for dealing with this health crisis. How many lives might have been saved?

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