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Israel president slams government's handling of coronavirus outbreak as infections spike

Rivlin's remarks came a day after a senior Israeli health official announced her resignation [Getty]

Date of publication: 9 July, 2020

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Israel's president criticised the government's Covid-19 response as the Jewish state experiences a spike in new daily cases.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Wednesday criticised the government's response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Israeli media reported, as the Jewish state is seeing a renewed spike in infections.

In his speech to graduates of the National Defence College in Tel Aviv, Rivlin said the Israeli government failed to develop an effective strategy to battle the country's Covid-19 outbreak.

“Up until now, the state of Israel has not developed a clear and coherent doctrine to combat the virus,” Rivlin is quoted as saying.

“We do not have a single body centered on the knowledge, the struggle, the coping, the control and the discourse with the public,” he added.

Rivlin stated there is no place for "political calculations" between Israel's defence and health ministries, stressing the need for the government to "give the reins" to a body that can achieve the best results with the ministries' assistance.

Rivlin's remarks were made a day after a senior Israeli health official stepped down from her position.

Siegal Sadetzki, head of Israel's Public Health Services, announced her resignation on Tuesday.

In a Facebook post announcing her decision, Sadetzki said Israel has moved to a "dangerous place" as she felt expert opinions went unheeded.

"Unfortunately, for the last few weeks, the compass handling the pandemic lost its direction," 
she wrote. "We watched with frustration as the hourglass of opportunity runs low. On this basis, I reached the conclusion that under the new conditions in which my professional opinion is not accepted - I can no longer assist with an effective response to curb the spread of the virus."

While Sadetzki praised Israel's lockdown measures in the spring, she believed the easing of restrictions in May were premature and detrimental to previous progress in containing the outbreak.

Sadetzki's statement came the same day Israel responded to a surge in infections by swiftly reimposing restrictions closing down public spaces such as wedding venues, bars, clubs, gyms and swimming pools.

Though Israel's initial containment of the coronavirus was viewed as a success, the country's second wave led to criticism of the government's strategy.

In May, Israel emerged from its lockdown with less than 100 new cases a day. The number rose to around 1,000 new daily cases this month.

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