COVID-19 spike in Israel means more kids won't go to school on Sunday

The coronavirus cabinet is expected to meet on Sunday and discuss tightening restrictions to help reduce infection.

Israeli children wearing face masks make their way to school in Tzfat on their first day back to classes on November 1, 2020 (photo credit: DAVID COHEN/FLASH 90)
Israeli children wearing face masks make their way to school in Tzfat on their first day back to classes on November 1, 2020
(photo credit: DAVID COHEN/FLASH 90)
The infection rate has risen across the country and hundreds of students in fifth through 12th grade will not be returning to their classrooms on Sunday as a result.
The coronavirus cabinet on Thursday night approved the list of cities that have become red and orange, and the Home Front Command updated its map accordingly, designating 48 red cities and 62 orange.
The list of red and orange areas is no longer just Arab, but includes Kiryat Yam, for example, and Kiryat Bialik, as well as Ashkelon and Dimona, among others. There has been a spike in infection in haredi (ultra-Orthodox) areas in recent days. The reproduction rate (R) is higher among the haredi sector (1.6) than among the general community (1.24).
Not all red and orange areas are full cities, some are areas or neighborhoods of towns and cities.
The coronavirus cabinet allowed preschools through fourth grade to open in all cities, regardless of infection. However, two weeks ago, it made clear that older kids could not go to school in those areas.
The cabinet is expected to meet on Sunday and discuss tightening restrictions to help reduce infection. If the full “tightened restraint” program is implemented, then preschools and elementary schools would also be shuttered in orange and red areas.
It is likely that at least part if not all of the tightened restraint program will be rolled out, given the spike in new daily cases.
The Health Ministry reported at noon on Friday that there had been 2,813 new cases of corona diagnosed the day before. There were 432 people in serious condition, including 105 who were intubated. The death toll spiked to 3,056.
Some 3.6% of people screened for the virus tested positive.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he supports a decision made last week that if cases surpass 2,500 a day, a period of “tightened restraint” would be rolled out. However, many ministers object and think differential measures should be taken rather than sweeping steps.
Tightened restraint, as originally defined by coronavirus commissioner Prof. Nachman Ash means shops, malls and marketplaces would be closed; gatherings would be limited to 10 people in closed spaces and 20 in open spaces; and, as mentioned, the education system would stay open in green and yellow cities but would close in orange and red ones.
Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz said he wanted to discuss the move toward such restrictions at the cabinet meeting, weighing any final decisions against the rate of morbidity and mortality and how fast people could be vaccinated.
Recall, Israel’s vaccination campaign will kick off Saturday night with the inoculation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein and several top doctors at Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer.
On Sunday, hospitals across the country will vaccinate their medical personnel. A poll by the Israel Medical Association that was published over the weekend, found that 82% of doctors intend to vaccinate against the virus.
On Monday, seniors over the age of 60 will also begin getting jabbed at health funds across Israel.
“The vaccine will only reduce coronavirus infection in two or three months,” warned the head of Shaare Zedek, Ofer Merin in an interview with Kan News. He said he expects morbidity to rise in the coming days, especially after the Hanukkah holiday and because “people feel we are past the pandemic” since the vaccines arrived in Israel.
Health officials estimate that even if restrictions were put in place on Sunday, the country will hit 5,000 new cases a day and as many as 800 serious patients by the time the impact of the restrictions can be seen.


Tags school