Israel seeing corona fatigue as serious cases surge

As the country prepares to enter its third lockdown, Israel’s hospitals are seeing the results of the last two months of gatherings and commerce.

At Wolfson Medical Center in Holon, there were three times the number of patients on Friday morning than the week before.

“We clearly see the effect of the increase in the level of general morbidity on the number of serious patients in our hospital,” said its director-general, Dr. Anat Engel. “We have started to vaccinate – there is a sense of optimism on the one hand – but we must continue to act out of personal responsibility and beware of… getting infected.”

Twenty-five people were hospitalized at Wolfson, a report by the center said. Among them were 12 coronavirus patients in serious condition and two intubated and in critical condition.Dr. Anat Engel (Credit: Liat Mandel)Dr. Anat Engel (Credit: Liat Mandel)

Engel had told The Jerusalem Post last week that she had hoped Israel would not have to enter a third lockdown. However, the government voted to do so on Wednesday night as the virus has been spreading rapidly throughout the country.

The closure begins Sunday at 5 p.m.

Engel said she understood why people were becoming complacent.

“There is corona fatigue,” she told the Post. “We are in a war – not only the doctors, but all of the community. The world has been fighting a war for a whole year and it has had a psychological impact. There is a sort of burnout – that is what we are seeing.”

Engel was the first to be vaccinated against the novel coronavirus at her hospital and said that they are seeing high compliance among the staff.

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“This will be a game changer,” she said. “When I look at the data of the vaccines – they are 95% effective – I think that in the end, life will go back to normal.”

Already on Friday, the Health Ministry shared that more than 200,000 people had been inoculated, mostly medical personnel and senior citizens. Within a week or so, teachers and school aides are expected to be vaccinated, followed by military and other security personnel, and eventually the greater public.

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein has charged his director-general, Chezy Levy, with inoculating 100,000 people per day beginning within a week. The Maccabi health fund alone said it vaccinated nearly 20,000 people on Thursday.

“We are very dependent on solidarity,” Engel told the Post regarding both the rising numbers and the hope of vaccination.

“With all the technological and digital advances, at the end of the day, to stop infection you have to put on a mask, social distance and not gather – the ‘low’ of the low-tech,” she said.

“This is the challenge here [in Israel]. It requires compliance from every person and solidarity of the young people who could get sick, although most don’t,” Engel said. “They have to be restricted to protect an elderly person, who could be someone they don’t even know.”

Likewise, she said that “most of us have to get vaccinated to see the impact” of the vaccine.

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