Purim begins tomorrow and Passover is just around the corner. It was during these festivals that Israel suffered its first major outbreaks of COVID-19 back in early 2020. But now, even with the positive rate of infection on the rise, Israeli experts say there is nothing to worry about.
“We are not worried about a new wave, but we are worried about a rise in infections,” Dr. Orly Greenfield, director of the coronavirus education program for the Ministry of Health, told Army Radio on Tuesday.
But Dr. Greenfield did caution that “we should not become complacent. Coronavirus is still here, even if we do not expect an outbreak in the next few days.”
At the same time, local media reports note that the dreaded “R number” has been rising in Israel in recent weeks, indicating that a fresh outbreak could indeed be on the horizon.
The R number shows how many people are in turn being infected by each person tested positive for COVID-19. So, if that number is below 1, then the pandemic is shrinking. If it is over 1, then there is an outbreak.
Ten days ago, Israel’s R number stood at 0.88. Experts believe it is now closer to 0.92, and could be pushed over 1 by family and community gatherings during the upcoming holidays.
And yet, the experts seem to have quieted down and of late we have only rarely heard about COVID on the evening news broadcasts.
Would these experts and our local media be taking this approach to Corona if there weren’t other crises like the Russia-Ukraine war to focus on? All one can do is speculate, but it is notable how quickly Corona disappeared from our television screens the moment Russian tanks began to roll.