Health Ministry invested NIS 112 million to purchase 2.4 million kits for serological tests, but plans to perform only 300,000 tests.

State Comptroller Matanyahu Engelman today published a special report following the COVID-19 crisis, pointing out significant deficiencies in treating the crisis, with the aim of bringing about their immediate correction.

Engelman said the importance of the issues examined was particularly evident at this time of the "second wave" and in view of the significant implications that this entails in terms of health, education, and economic needs, to assist populations affected during and after the crisis including the elderly, unemployed, and displaced.

"The audited bodies must act quickly and efficiently to correct the deficiencies that haven't yet been rectified to improve their continued response to the coronavirus crisis," the auditor emphasized at the beginning of the report.

The auditor examined, among other things, the use of GSS location surveillance to conduct epidemiological investigations in the Health Ministry, and found that the tools used by the Service did not allow it to fully meet the task assigned by the government.

In addition, there were four incidents where the Service acted in violation of rules and procedures and in a manner that was disproportionately infringing on the public's right to privacy.

In the period between the beginning of July 2020 and the middle of August 2020, the State Comptroller's Office examined various aspects concerning GSS assistance activities to the Health Ministry. Two tasks were assigned to the Service: Regarding the carrier: Identifying location data and traffic routes in the 10 to 14 days prior to the day of diagnosis. Carrier contacts: Identifying people who came in close contact (as far as possible within a radius of two meters and for at least 15 minutes) with the carrier.

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The audit found that the tools used by the Service did not allow it to fully meet the task assigned to it. In practice, the GSS was unable to provide, with the capabilities it devoted to the aid mission, location placements with the required resolution. This directly affected the effectiveness of its activities and the relatively large volume of contacts it located, and consequently the relatively large number of people required to enter isolation, including those who had not been in close contact with a carrier.

It also emerged that during the audit period about 3.5% of the people found to have been in contact with patients, and therefore required to enter isolation, eventually turned out to be ill. This ratio, known in the service as a "noise signal", and used as a measure of the effectiveness of GSS activity, reflects the potential for very widespread forcing of people into isolation, including those who were not in close contact with a carrier.

The GSS, in its reference on September 22, 2020 to the draft audit report, noted that over time the "noise-signal" ratio improved and rose to about 4.6%, because according to data from the Health Ministry, and after deducting details from family data, the noise-signal ratio of activity during the second period of operation was 7.3%, and that "the Service continues its process of continuous improvement." The review revealed that the effectiveness of the epidemiological investigation conducted by questioning the carrier is significantly higher than that of the GSS assistance operations: "On the basis of an investigation conducted by questioning the carrier it was about 24% in the corresponding period." Read more at Arutz-7