Coronavirus: With fewer than 300 cases, why is Israel in near-lockdown?

Almost every aspect of the country’s crippling medical system can be understood as the coronavirus crisis unfolds.


The novel coronavirus that has spread across the world, infecting more than 175,000 people, has hit the Jewish state too. But according to the Health Ministry, fewer than 300 Israelis have COVID-19, and no one has died. So why is the government shutting the country down? According to experts in public policy and health, the severity of the measures being taken now is because the country has let its medical system deteriorate for decades, and now it is unprepared. “Before the outbreak of the current pandemic, hospital occupancy rates in Israel were already the highest in the developed world, while its mortality rates from infectious diseases, which doubled in the past two decades alone, are not only higher than in every other developed country, they are 73% higher than the second-ranked country,” said Prof. Dan Ben-David, president and founder of the Shoresh Institution for Socioeconomic Research and a faculty member at Tel Aviv University’s Department of Public Policy. “We shut the country down to deal with something that we neglected for decades.”


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