From Jan. 1 until Jan. 30, Israel recorded 29% percent of all its COVID deaths which have been tallied since the pandemic began in March.
Israel started the year with a death toll of 3,338. That number rose to 4,745 as of today — accounting for 29% of all deaths attributed to the coronavirus in a mere 30 days.
After months of boasting a low mortality rate and effective measures in containing the virus’ spread int he first few months, how did Israel get to this point?
What’s more baffling is that this sudden surge in the death toll occurs in the same month as a massive rollout of the Pfizer vaccine for which more than 3 million Israelis have already received the first shot and about half received their first one. The mass vaccinations had already begun on Dec. 20.
This spike in deaths also coincides with a lockdown that began in some form on Dec. 27 and then tightened on Jan. 7. And this while large sectors of the economy have not even been released since the second lockdown which began on Sept. 18.
Additionally, Israelis have spent more days in lockdown in 2020 than any other country in the world.
So what is not working?
Some health officials blame the temporary opening in tourism for Israelis traveling to the United Arab Emirates and returning with the virus. However, the situation in the UAE is under control while it appears it is still raging here.
Health Ministry Director-General Chezy Levy said Saturday acknowledged that the national lockdown and vaccination rate has been slow to reduce the rate of infections.
“The lockdown is working, but at a slow and disappointing rate,” Levy told Kan broadcaster.
The positive test rate has remained at around 9% while in previous lockdowns it had been reduced to 1%.
“The restrictions are difficult for everyone, but keep in mind that this is a disease that can only be prevented by stopping irresponsible personal contact,” he said.
The cabinet is currently considering extending the current lockdown which is set to end tonight. Though a vote had yet to be taken by early evening, Israelis were widely expecting the lockdown to be extended by at least one week.
The tourism sector has been completely closed since March. And now Ben-Gurion International Airport has been sealed even for Israelis trying to travel out or in. Many have been blocked from returning to the country, keeping families separated and preventing new immigrants from making aliyah.
Nicole Jansezian is the news editor for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and senior correspondent for ALL ISRAEL NEWS