Health Ministry answers frequently asked COVID-19 questions

To help haredim cooperate on curbing the spread of the coronavirus, the Health Ministry has compiled a Q&A of some common questions regarding testing, masks and more.

Israelis wear protective face masks as they walk through the haTikva market in Tel Aviv, during a nationwide lockdown. October 05, 2020. (photo credit: MIRIAM ALSTER/FLASH90)
Israelis wear protective face masks as they walk through the haTikva market in Tel Aviv, during a nationwide lockdown. October 05, 2020.
(photo credit: MIRIAM ALSTER/FLASH90)
The Health Ministry has started a new campaign with the intent on improving the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) sector's cooperation in curbing the coronavirus pandemic.
To do that, the Health Ministry has compiled a Q&A to answer the most common questions that arise when dealing with the virus.
The questions and their answers are as follows:
Why should one get tested even when they display no symptoms?
Coronavirus tests are now given to everyone with no need for a referral from a doctor, and they are for free. Using the test, it's possible to detect the disease even if the person shows no symptoms, which allows the virus to be stopped from spreading more quickly. The more people that are tested, the easier it will be to find more and more people who are sick despite not showing symptoms.
Before a visit to one's grandparents, for example, it's recommended that the entire family first get tested. If they come back negative, you can rest easy knowing you aren't putting other family members at risk.
In addition, those who get tested without having been exposed to a confirmed patient and don't show symptoms don't need to isolate themselves after getting tested.
Those who have been exposed to a confirmed patient and do not display symptoms can use the test to have some peace of mind for them and their family, though they must still isolate themselves for the entire 14-day period even if the test is negative.
Another advantage for those in isolation is that two negative tests, when the second one was taken 10 days after being exposed to the confirmed patient, will shorten the isolation period from 14 days to 12 days.
Why is it important to wear a mask?
The coronavirus is spread from person to person by small droplets that can be released into the air when talking, coughing or sneezing. Even people who don't exhibit any symptoms can still be sick and contagious. The face mask reduces the risk of infection on both sides, preventing the droplets from spreading and blocking the ones that do spread.
The mask protects those who wear it and those around them. That way, even if someone is exposed to a contagious case, they would still be roughly 95% more protected against infection, if both they and the confirmed case are wearing masks. In addition, studies have shown that those in enclosed and crowded spaces are the most likely to result in being infected, which is why it's important that everyone wears a mask when in one to reduce the risk.
Why is it important to have open windows in enclosed spaces?
Droplets carrying the coronavirus can transfer from person to person when speaking, coughing or sneezing. The larger ones can reach up to two meters away, which is why one should maintain social distancing. Despite this, there are still fragments that can stay airborne for several hours without air circulation. To reduce the risk of infection, it is important to have windows open in enclosed spaces such as synagogues, yeshivas, stores and even one's home, to reduce the risk of infection.
What is a serological test?
A serological test is a blood test that checks for the presence of antibodies, which the body creates against various sources of disease (such as germs and viruses), which remain after the person recovers.
A positive serological test usually means a person has been infected and can indicate recovery and long-term immunity.
These tests also have a limited level of accuracy, and cannot always be fully trusted. On top of that, a positive test does not necessarily indicate whether the disease is still active.
These tests are used in combination with regular negative tests to determine if someone has recovered or not.
I was in contact with someone who was in contact with a confirmed patient, am I at risk of getting infected?
The risk of getting infected by a healthy person who was in contact with a sick person is low.
This is not defined as being exposed to a confirmed patient, and as such does not require isolation. One can continue life as normal.
How does one appeal an isolation referral?
In the case you have been told to self-isolate, and you believe this is a mistake, you can turn to the Health Ministry and appeal the isolation referral by calling *5400.
Are there any complications with children who have recovered from the coronavirus?
According to a report by the Coronavirus Information Center, there have been multiple reports of children who have been infected and have later developed various complications after recovery. The most common of these is an inflammatory syndrome that hits multiple systems in the body. It is also characterized by fever and various organ failures, which can appear life threatening in themselves.
The syndrome appears about two to four weeks after the person is infected with the coronavirus, and is most common among healthy children aged 5-14. Levels of severity can range from just a fever to requiring hospitalization.
This syndrome can affect the lungs, nervous system and digestive system, and result in inflamed meninges (the membranous coverings of the brain and spinal cord) and various pancreas issues.
There are also several reports of other complications, such as diabetes, rare neurological syndromes and symptoms such as exhaustion, difficulty in focusing and difficulty breathing, which is similar to many adults who have recovered.