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Health Ministry lashes out at doctor for criticizing Omicron response, quarantine rules

The Health Ministry lashes out at a prominent doctor for criticizing Israel’s response to the Omicron variant of coronavirus and the government’s quarantine policies.

In an op-ed published today on the Walla news site, Dr. Idit Matot of Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital said decision-makers continue to be driven by “anxiety and a sense of fear” and noted that despite being more contagious, Omicron is less virulent than previous strains of coronavirus.

“It’s important to know: The numbers shown to us about coronavirus patients in hospitals — both mild (for the most part) and serious — have coronavirus, but the large majority of them aren’t hospitalized for coronavirus,” wrote Matot, who is director of anesthesia at the hospital.

She said two children being treated at the hospital — one for a cerebral hemorrhage and the other for a bladder infection — are listed as serious coronavirus cases, even though that is not what they are hospitalized for.

“Therefore, the publication of the number of serious patients with coronavirus that appears each day in the media is misleading,” she said.

Matot went on to say that a new approach was needed for Omicron and called for eased quarantine rules for children, particularly those who are asymptomatic.

“People are forced to be imprisoned in their homes. We are in a de facto lockdown and the country is on the verge of collapse. Have we gone crazy?” she said.

Hours later, the Health Ministry releases a statement against Matot calling her proposal to ease quarantine rules “unacceptable.”

“The policy Prof. Matot is suggesting is liable to lead to serious harm for at-risk groups and a rise in the numerous serious patients and mortality,” the ministry says.

“Unfortunately, Prof. Matot’s conduct, and the language in which she chose to express herself, raise concerns that the lust for publicity sometimes overtakes responsibility,” it adds.

It also hits out at Ichilov Hospital for posting excerpts from Matot’s op-ed on its Twitter account, saying this is “improper and forbidden.”