Taking an unequivocal position in the debate over whether COVID-19 is affected by the weather, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday declared flatly that the virus “is not affected at all by the climate.”
Some experts have suggested that hotter temperatures can affect the spread of the virus. US President Donald Trump noted in February that “a lot of people think that goes away in April with the heat.” Others are not so sure.
Netanyahu, in a televised address to Israelis, was adamant: “Unfortunately, this virus is not impressed by the weather,” he declared. “It is not affected at all by the climate. ”
The prime minister was speaking amid an uptick in new cases in recent days, causing fresh concerns after Israel lifted many of its restrictions against the spread of the pandemic. A Jerusalem high school has become a center of new infection, with over 100 students and staff testing positive.
“The number of infected people in the world is over six million,” Netanyahu said. “Yesterday there was a record number of new cases in the world in one day.”
Underlining his contention that climate is not a factor, he added: “Today it is strongly hitting hot countries such as Brazil, Mexico, India, Peru and – in our region – Iran, Turkey and Egypt.
“It also strikes cold countries. In Sweden, where the number of citizens is identical to ours, and which deliberately declined to impose health restrictions — and there are those who recommended such a thing here — there are currently 4,300 dead from coronavirus. In Belgium, where the population is also identical to ours, and which took cautious measures but very belatedly, there are currently almost 10,000 dead.”
Netanyahu said Israel, with a death toll at 284, had “not reached the horrific numbers of other countries because we took effective, rapid and timely steps.”
He warned that some Israelis had lately failed to keep to social-distancing restrictions, and noted: “The pandemic is most definitely not behind us. It is running amok in the world and it is still here in Israel.”
He added that on Friday “I saw Israelis sunbathing crowded together on the beaches, and dancing close to each other without masks. I heard them rejoicing. They said: ‘The coronavirus is behind us.’ Unfortunately, this is incorrect.”
“Until a vaccine is found, we are on a long journey adjacent to an abyss,” he said.