Construction workers sick with coronavirus found in northern Israel

Construction work has been defined as essential work since the beginning of the outbreak

Construction of Harish as of April 2016 (photo credit: DAVCZA/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)
Construction of Harish as of April 2016
Chinese construction workers at a building site in the northern city of Harish have been hospitalized at the Hillel Yaffe Medical Center in Hadera and have tested positive for coronavirus, according to Ynet.
The five infected workers stayed in an apartment with about 10 other Chinese workers in Harish; the construction company claimed that only two workers were infected. The apartment has been disinfected.
The building site, owned by the Shapir Company, is one of the largest in Israel with 1,500 residential units being built in 86 buildings along with two schools, parks and public institutions.
Hundreds of workers work at the site every day along with hundreds of external workers and contractors, meaning it could be difficult to track additional people who were infected and traveled home or to other construction sites and spread the virus, according to Ynet.
Construction work has been defined as essential work since the beginning of the outbreak. Palestinian workers were told to decide whether to stay in Israel for the time being or return home. Some 20,000 decided to go home.
About 8,200 Chinese construction workers are in Israel. Tel Aviv-based business newspaper Calcalist reported in March that these workers were instructed by the Chinese Embassy not to go to work.
Some employees listened to the instructions, until Israel intervened and convinced them to go back to work, promising that it would protect their health.
Other cases of infections at building sites have already been reported. In one case, a worker continued to work after being infected because the site manager didn’t want to let him stop working. Workers have claimed that their lives are at risk because no one is enforcing Health Ministry regulations.
“It is most saddening to see that the understandable concern for the economic aspects of the emergency exceeds the concern for workers who need to continue to hold the construction industry on their shoulders in these days, with a risk to themselves, their families and their communities,” said The Group for Combating Building and Industrial Accidents, according to Ynet.
“We return and demand from all the government ministries, and at their head the Labor and Welfare Ministry, to act immediately to protect all the workers at construction sites in Harish and to stop their work until the required exhaustive clarification; to inform and to carry out without delay an overarching government plan to protect all workers, to guide employers and assist them, and comprehensive and determined enforcement.”
The Bonei Haaretz Association stated that they reported the incident and that all cases of suspected coronavirus infections are treated equally, regardless of the origin of the worker. Contractors are checking for fevers every day, according to the association.