Daily tests to triple, virus will eventually ‘disappear,’ says health official
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Daily tests to triple, virus will eventually ‘disappear,’ says health official

Health ministry official says 2,000 tests will be carried out per day, but only for those deemed to have reason; hopes coronavirus will go this summer or next

A Magen David Adom paramedic holds a bagged and sealed coronavirus screening test kit during a training exercise in the central city of Kiryat Ono on February 26, 2020. (Jack Guez/AFP)
A Magen David Adom paramedic holds a bagged and sealed coronavirus screening test kit during a training exercise in the central city of Kiryat Ono on February 26, 2020. (Jack Guez/AFP)

A Health Ministry official has said that Israel can effectively battle coronavirus, and in time, “it will just disappear.”

Asher Shalmon, the Health Ministry’s director of international relations, said Saturday night that the crisis will be over “when we see what we see now in China,” with a key sign being more people cured than developing the disease.

Dr. Shalmon added: “Then we’ll understand that we’re on the right track.”

From this point “it could take a few more weeks, and as it appeared we believe it will just disappear.” Shalmon said he hopes that this will happen this summer or next summer.

Dr. Asher Shalmon (Courtesy)

However, in the meantime, Shalmon said, many people will be exposed to the virus and some will develop the disease.

He said that the national efforts, stepped up with new rules on Saturday night that shut down many aspects of public life, will prove important to fighting coronavirus, and suggested that Israelis should brace themselves for even stricter decrees.

He predicted: “You can expect more orders and decisions are going to be made in the coming few days.”

Shalmon revealed that the capacity for coronavirus tests is poised to triple to 2,000 per day, which will provide relief for labs that are struggling to cope with demand. He said that testing will become far more common but “I don’t see a situation where we are going to offer testing for everybody without clinical reason.”

Shalmon was briefing journalists just after the government intensified regulations to combat the spread of the virus, including the shuttering of all educational establishments.

Children play basketball next to a closed school in Hadera, March 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

He said that the situation in some other countries vindicates Israel’s strong response, commenting: “We do see places that did not control it where emergency services, intensive care units and hospitals in general are really crashing down.”

Shalmon explained that Israel’s strategy is to pace the spread of coronavirus, or “flatten the curve” to allow the health system to provide optimal services to virus patients who need them and to reequip anything that may be in shortage.

He hopes it may also have the advantage of ensuring there are as few cases as possible before the weather warms up as scientists think that heat may help to fight the spread of the virus.

Shalmon said that Israel’s strategy will not only slow the rate of cases, but will actually reduce the overall number of people who will become infected.

Shalmon stressed — as he has done previously — that expectations for the quick development of a vaccine are misplaced, saying that it will be “at least a year to have a commercial product on the market.”

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