Coronavirus advisory committee to meet, consider full lockdown

Some sick patients can now quarantine for only 10 days * Interior Ministry announces foreign students can learn in Israel in the fall

Israeli army Technicians carry out a diagnostic test for coronavirus in a IDF lab in central Israel on July 15, 2020. (photo credit: YOSSI ZELIGER/FLASH90)
Israeli army Technicians carry out a diagnostic test for coronavirus in a IDF lab in central Israel on July 15, 2020.
(photo credit: YOSSI ZELIGER/FLASH90)
The special coronavirus advisory committee is expected to convene today for the second time this week to discuss data about the coronavirus infection rate and determine what other steps might need to be taken to ensure the health system doesn’t collapse. According to most reports, the Health Ministry is pushing for a total lockdown.
The meeting will take place against the backdrop of a new daily diagnoses peak – 1,975 in a single day – and with the understanding that it is possible that the Knesset coronavirus committee, which is also supposed to meet on Thursday, could undo some of the restrictions even before the advisory committee can convene.
MK Yifat Shasha-Biton, the head of the Knesset coronavirus committee, met Wednesday with government officials to try to agree on an outline for gyms and tourist attractions before the weekend.
The committee was supposed to convene the same day to vote on gyms and was likely going to repeal the government’s decision. However, Shasha-Biton opted to try to work it out with the Health Ministry first, leading to frustration among her committee members.
“I made every effort to get the coronavirus committee to meet today and vote on opening gyms, studios, zooms, museums and other attractions within the confines of the Purple Ribbon directives,” said MK Yulia Malinovsky (Yisrael Beytenu). “Unfortunately, this will not happen. We missed an opportunity.”
The Knesset coronavirus committee on Tuesday voted to allow restaurants to stay open despite the rise in infection, going against the government’s decision last week. Now, the government is considering requesting a court order to limit the activity of restaurants and, at press time, was trying to pass the “Big Coronavirus Bill,” which would allow the government in most instances to bypass the committee.
The Health Ministry reported strikingly high numbers on Wednesday: 32,345 active patients, among them 273 in serious condition, including 78 who are intubated. Another five people died from the virus, bringing the death toll to 430.
Despite the rising numbers, the Health Ministry announced Wednesday that it was following the direction of the World Health Organization and the isolation period for some people who have been infected with the novel coronavirus has been shortened from 14 days to 10.
The decision was based on new research that indicates that the chance of spreading the virus and infecting others is very low after nine days, the ministry said.
However, there are different criteria for different patients:
If patients know exactly when their symptoms began, they may leave isolation after 13 days – 10 days since the onset of symptoms plus another three days during which they are symptom-free. Then, they may leave isolation without requiring any further screening.
In the cases where patients do not know when their symptoms started, they have to wait 13 days, too – 10 days from the last time they tested positive, plus another three days symptom-free. Then, there is no need for any additional screening and they may leave isolation.
Finally, asymptomatic patients can leave isolation as soon as 10 days have passed since they tested positive, with no symptoms.
Although the above patients can leave quarantine without being re-tested, patients who are hospitalized, are high-risk or immunocompromised should be re-screened before leaving isolation. Also, all patients must receive approval to leave isolation from their doctor.
Those who have come in contact with a sick patient, but themselves are not infected, must still wait 14 days in quarantine. Also, Israelis returning from abroad are still required to isolate for 14 days.
Another announcement came from Interior Minister Arye Deri, who said that his ministry will now approve the entry into Israel of all foreign students who were planning to begin their studies in the country this fall.
Following professional discussions that were held between experts in the Population and Immigration Authority, the Health and Foreign ministries, it was determined that the entry would be approved for any students that could demonstrate that they could meet the isolation requirements as determined by the Health Ministry.
The approval applies to foreign students who plan to learn in academic institutions, yeshivas, seminaries, Masa study abroad programs, high schools or pre-army programs. The institutions will be responsible for ensuring students isolate.
However, the government has still not decided what to do about the country’s summer schools and camps. Education Minister Yoav Gallant spoke on Wednesday at the Knesset, and once again stressed that educational institutions should stay open through August 6 as planned to allow parents to work.
At the same time, the Health and Culture ministries confirmed Wednesday that “drive-in” live performances can take place according to the Health Ministry directives. Up to 200 vehicles can enter the performance complex, maintaining a 2-meter distance between them.