51% of school COVID-19 infections in ultra-Orthodox system - report

Netanyahu: Pray outdoors not in synagogues on Simchat Torah, don’t dance. Losing lives because of Simchat Torah would be desecration of God’s name.

Ultra-Orthodox children wearing face masks at their school in the city of Rehovot, May 24, 2020 (photo credit: YOSSI ZELIGER/FLASH90)
Ultra-Orthodox children wearing face masks at their school in the city of Rehovot, May 24, 2020
(photo credit: YOSSI ZELIGER/FLASH90)
Some 51% of COVID-19 infections in kindergartens and schools are among ultra-Orthodox children, data released on Thursday by the Education Ministry has shown.
There are currently 15,285 pupils with the coronavirus as of October 7, of whom 7,823 are in the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) school system.
The remaining 49% of infections in the school system was broken down geographically with 9.8% of infections in the Central District, 9.7% in the Northern District, 7.6% in the Tel Aviv District, 7.8% in the South, 5.5% in the Haifa District, 5% in the Jerusalem District and 3.4% among smaller towns and settlements.
Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman said that as the new school semester approaches, decisions need to be taken in accordance with the data only, and not in accordance with political pressure of the haredi parties.
“A return to frontal studies in the lower grades and opening kindergartens could somewhat advance the economy, which is in deep crisis, and of course allow parents to return to a normal life routine.”
In general, the rate of COVID-19 infections among the haredim is still far higher than the general population.
Some 22% of those in the ultra-Orthodox community tested for coronavirus are positive for the disease, double the rate of the general population at 10.5% as of October 6.
However, that figure has actually been on a decreasing trend since the end of September when the rate of positive tests in the haredi sector was 29%.
But the rate of severe COVID cases is now significantly higher in the haredi community than the broader population.
In the haredi sector the rate of severe cases is 0.18 per 10,000 population, compared to a rate of 0.14 per 10,000 in the general population.
Shas MK Moshe Arbel told KAN Reshet Bet that in light of the high rates of infection among haredim, if specific closures are needed for haredi cities he would support it.
“If it becomes clear, in a decisive manner, that it will reduce infections and save lives we have to do this even if it is difficult,” said Arbel.
On Thursday evening, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a short video on Twitter calling which ban indoor prayer, over the upcoming Simchat Torah celebrations,
Netanyahu said that although the holiday is much loved, the Torah commands the Jewish people to protect their lives, “without cutting corners, without saying it won’t happen to me.”
Said the prime minister “Our Torah is a Torah of life and we need to do everything to protect life, our lives and of loved ones and of all people.
“Don’t got to synagogue, pray outdoors, pray at a distance, don’t dance, don’t infect [others] don’t get infected. There is no greater desecration of God’s name that because of Simchat Torah we will lose lives,” said the prime minister.