(August 13, 2020 / JNS) Israel Coronavirus Project coordinator Ronni Gamzu told Jerusalem officials on Wednesday that the infection rate in their city is so high that if it were in any other country in the world, “it would be completely locked down.”
According to Israeli news outlets, Gamzu told Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion and other municipal officials that under similar circumstances elsewhere in the world, “People wouldn’t be leaving their homes, wouldn’t be going to work; there wouldn’t be traffic in the city.”
However, he also reiterated his position that a lockdown is not necessarily the answer.
“I believe that the Jerusalem Municipality has operated correctly,” he said, referring to the local government’s policy of acting on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis in accordance with infection rates in each area.
During his discussions in the Israeli capital, Gamzu said that the government will improve hospital conditions in eastern Jerusalem, which has a large Arab population, a step that would also lessen the load at medical centers in other parts of the city.
Lion said that a third of the city’s population lives in the eastern neighborhoods, where currently “more than 50 percent [of COVID-19 cases] are from.”
Figures presented by city officials during Wednesday’s talks indicate that among some 3,700 active cases in the city, more than 2,000 are from eastern Jerusalem.
The mayor also referred to the situation among the city’s large haredi population.
“What happens now is that if one yeshivah student becomes infected, all the students in the yeshivah are sent home. I think it is a mistake,” he said. “The entire yeshivah should be considered like [members of a] family” because the students are constantly together. Sending them home to quarantine, he argued, only raises the risk of their infecting their actual family members.
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