Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Panic, Economic Suicide, and the Virus

Today Israel announced that it is imposing a 14-day self-quarantine requirement on everyone coming from anywhere.  Except for citizens returning home and possibly non-citizens coming for exceptionally long visits, this requirement basically means Israel is physically cutting itself off from the world.

In a way, an irrational response to the coronavirus has accomplished what BDS has failed to do:  isolate Israel. 

Today I received an e-mail from one of the non-profits that works with the international press to try to ensure that Israel gets a fair shake in the news.  The organization reported that it had held a press conference to “make sure the international media accurately report Israel’s highly responsible approach.”

Except it is not.  It is a panicked, over-the-top response that is needlessly causing inconvenience, chaos, and panic for millions of people and is going to severely damage if not destroy Israel’s economy.

For most of the population, the coronavirus is less harmful than the flu. It almost exclusively seriously impacts the elderly and those with already compromised immune systems. Very few young people have had a serious case.

The statistics simply do not support the fear that has taken over Israel and much of the world:  https://www.statnews.com/2020/03/03/who-is-getting-sick-and-how-sick-a-breakdown-of-coronavirus-risk-by-demographic-factors/

Responsible doctors and other experts are advising the elderly and those with compromised immune systems to avoid crowds and to not fly or take cruises.  They are advising others to take reasonable hygienic measures such as wiping down surfaces and thoroughly washing hands.

The initial high death toll, the stuff of screaming headlines, was mainly due to ignorance as to what was happening and how to deal with it, and to vulnerable populations clustering in venues that amounted to petri dishes, i.e. cruise ships and senior housing facilities.  China, where the disease was first detected, is already seeing rates of infection and death decline (assuming its reports are reliable).

Dr. Jeremy Faust, who teaches at Harvard Medical School and writes for Slate, believes that the mortality rate will be lower than people think and that people are unnecessarily panicking.  https://slate.com/technology/2020/03/coronavirus-mortality-rate-lower-than-we-think.html

Dr. Steve Polansky of Sacramento, California sees one silver lining in what otherwise is a sea of irrationality:

“The one benefit to all this irrationality is that people are taking precautions with hand washing. So what will happen - the incidence of deaths from INFLUENZA will be markedly reduced which will be great. Other than that, I blame this massive hysteria on the media. Practice appropriate hand hygiene and if you have a cold, stay home. If you are running a fever and a cough, call your MD for instructions. Otherwise live your life.”

Israel is killing its economy and possibly fraying its relationships with other countries for no reason.  Rather than trying to cut itself off from the world and contributing to fear, confusion, and severe damage to the economy, it should be taking reasonable, methodical steps to protect the public’s health. 

 (Originally published in The Times of Israel)

1 comment:

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