On Saturday, the Education Ministry said that they will gradually implement the new scheme designed to keep schools in Israel open and to reduce the number of students in quarantine. This was because of a delay in supply of the coronavirus testing kits to schools throughout the country, which could affect its launch. The government’s plan had to be put into effect from Sunday onwards and the total number of COVID-19 testing kits that were required for this purpose was around 920,000. According to the Health Ministry, they have already provided half a million kits and there are 15,000 more kits that are ready for distribution to schools.
The Health Ministry added that more of them would be distributed to the schools in the coming days. As per the Education Ministry, rather than delaying the implementation of the program in schools, they will launch it gradually in the next couple of days. Higher priority would be given to schools that are located in high infection areas, as opposed to others. The new scheme dictated that students in schools of ‘green cities’ which have low infection rates will not have to go for a full-week quarantine if they are exposed to a confirmed case of the coronavirus.
Instead, those who come into contact will only be required to quarantine until they get a negative PCR test. After that, they would be required to take rapid antigen tests at home before they go back to school and they will be provided free rapid antigen kits for a week. They will have to use the kit every morning to conduct the test before coming to school and will only be allowed to enter if they present a negative test. They will have to undergo another PCR test on the seventh day, after which they can go back to their regular routine and not have to take the rapid test anymore.
If they test positive, the student will have to quarantine, while the rest of the class will continue as normal. Meanwhile, the total number of COVID-19 cases in the country are falling, with Saturday’s new cases around 1,023, the lowest they have been since July. Even though the total number of tests conducted over the weekend is lower than those during weekdays, the positivity rate remained low at 1.99%, which is also the lowest since July. The R number also dropped to 0.71, which indicates the pandemic is shrinking.
The number of COVID-19 patients in serious condition in the country was 463, which includes 186 people on ventilators and 222 in critical condition. Almost 78% of these serious cases have not been vaccinated. Israel also removed a few more restrictions on outdoor activities on Friday, as a Green Pass would no longer be required for rafting, kayaking and jeep trips. However, the Purple Badge rules relating to social distancing would be applicable, which include admitting kids that are not eligible for vaccination and gathering of one individual for every seven meters. Likewise, visits to public libraries and museums wouldn’t need a Green Pass either.