A healthcare worker takes a swab sample from a man for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) test, after returning from overseas, at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod, near Tel Aviv, Israel April 13 2021. REUTERS/RONEN ZVULUN
A healthcare worker takes a swab sample from a man for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) test, after returning from overseas, at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod, near Tel Aviv, Israel April 13 2021. REUTERS/RONEN ZVULUN

Jews in general, and Israelis in particular, are so accustomed to bad news, depressing news and worrying news that when there is finally good news to report they don’t know how to deal with it. Products of an often tortuous Jewish history and living in a tough neighbourhood, Israelis have been conditioned to look for dark clouds even in the sunniest of skies. We hear good news and suspect someone is trying to pull the wool over our eyes. 

But sometimes we can afford to revel in the moment. Now is a time to tone down the fretting, at least when it comes to the coronavirus. Israel passed two important milestones in the battle against Covid-19 at the weekend. More than a year after the public was directed to wear masks outdoors, that regulation was rescinded. On the same day the vast majority of the country’s children returned to school, a glorious day for children and parents alike.

But no sooner had the masks come off than reports emerged of a new Indian Covid-19 coronavirus variant. Forget the British, SA or even the Brazilian mutations: this new Indian variant was in our midst and threatening to set the coronavirus clock back. Even Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, while announcing on Monday on Facebook the purchase of millions more Pfizer vaccines, could not resist tamping down the enthusiasm a bit by mentioning the possibility of “surprises”, such as “coronavirus variants that the vaccines cannot overcome”.

But the variants are so far under control, so let’s enjoy the moment. Let’s enjoy the return to normality — faster than most other countries in the world — without spoiling it with fearmongering about new mutations. A new more virulent variant may well strike, and if it does adjustments will need to be made and new policies considered. But we are not there yet, and until we get there it is irresponsible to fan the flames of concern with endless “what if” questions. /Jerusalem, April 21

The Jerusalem Post

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